Fort Bragg, home of the airborne, may soon become Fort Liberty if Congress approves the recommendations of the Naming Commission tasked with remaining military installations bearing names of Confederate generals.
The Naming Commission on Tuesday held a virtual news conference where it announced the recommended names it will forward to Congress. After Congress approves the names, they will be forwarded to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, who will have the ultimate authority to rename the installations.
The Naming Commission also recommended new names for eight other Army posts. Fort Bragg is the only one that would not be renamed after a person. Instead, the recommendation is to rename Fort Bragg in honor of the American value of liberty, according to retired Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, the commission’s vice chairman.
Seidule said he served in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and recalled the lyrics of the 82nd Airborne song: “We’re All-American and proud to be, for we’re the soldiers of liberty.”
Fort Bragg is named for Braxton Bragg, a North Carolina native who served as a general in the Confederate Army.
It is home to the airborne and special operations forces and has more than 53,000 troops.
The other eight recommendations call for:
The Naming Commission is also looking at more than 750 Department of Defense assets, including street, school and building names. Other items include Navy vessels, monuments or military items that it deems to commemorate the Confederacy.
Congress last year enacted legislation creating the Naming Commission and gave it the task to rename military installations by 2023.
Austin, who previously commanded units of the 82nd Airborne Division, released a statement saying, "I am pleased to see the Naming Commission's progress as mandated by Congress in the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act."
“Today’s announcement highlights the commission’s efforts to propose nine new installation names that reflect the courage, values, sacrifices and diversity of our military men and women,” the statement said. “I thank the members of the commission for their important, collaborative work with base commanders, local community leaders, soldiers and military families. And I look forward to seeing their complete report later this year.”
Seidule, who led Tuesday’s virtual news conference, reiterated several times that the commission took into account "local sensitivities" when arriving at a proposed name.
In a release, the commission said it visited the installations last year for listening sessions with military commanders and community leaders to get feedback on the process and to hear preferences for new names.
Seidule said post commanders determined the stakeholders, post and community leaders, and others involved in the renaming process. He said the sessions were not open to the media because the commission wanted "unvarnished opinions" from the participants.
The commission said it received more than 34,000 submissions related to naming activities, including 3,670 unique names of individuals, locations, values and more.
The Naming Commission developed a short-list of potential names for the nine installations before reconnecting with the community groups through virtual listening sessions and gathering more input.
The commission said it met earlier this month and came up with its recommendations.
“This was an exhaustive process that entailed hundreds of hours of research, community engagement and internal deliberations,” retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, the chairwoman of the Naming Commission, said in a release. “This recommendation list includes American heroes whose stories deserve to be told and remembered; people who fought and sacrificed greatly on behalf of our nation.”