It seems like we move from controversy to controversy in this country without clear direction or emphasis on staying put so that we can have a full conversation. What was the issue yesterday? I’ve almost forgotten. Today’s issue seems so much more engaging, and I’m sure the argument we’ll have tomorrow will be even more volatile. It’s easy to get to a point where you just stop paying attention and turn off your phone because you’re burned out on whatever is going to happen next. You realize the sky isn’t falling, and no matter how many times we’ve been told the world will end in catastrophe and we’re headed for doom, we never actually get there. There is an issue I feel is important though; the names on ten of our military bases. I’m going to tell you why we should reject the people calling for DOD to change the names of these bases, but I’ll also tell you why we should absolutely change the names of these bases as a matter of principal.
I won’t list out the names of the bases or who they were named after. You can find that info on one of the many articles written by our illustrious, knee jerk media who are quick to support any movement that gets clicks on their websites with their well rounded “journalism” (sarcasm.) I will tell you WHY they were named after Confederate Generals, however. When the army was looking for large amounts of land to build bases on in the early part of the last century, they petitioned the local population of the areas where the bases are now stationed. Being that it was the south, and there was still a large affinity for the Confederacy, the names of these Confederate Generals being branded on the bases gave the army an easy win in acquiring the land, therefore it was a no brainer. The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye yet, black people had only been free for a half century or so at this point (with a large amount of the population still in heavy opposition towards it), and forward thinking as to what the social landscape would look like down the road was not even a thought, let alone a priority for a nation focused on multiple world wars over several decades. Besides, many people in the south AND north still remembered, or had family members that were part of the civil war, and it was a subject mired in a fog of emotions that don’t affect those of us today who have been raised, and clearly indoctrinated, on one nation under one flag. It was a different time, for a different people, who had an extraordinary task of fighting wars on a scale never before witnessed on this globe. The names of the bases likely mattered very little in light of the need to rapidly train and produce a massive number of soldiers very quickly.
About 5-7 years ago, during the birthing of our social dystopian, “politically correct at all costs” era, the conversation about the names of these bases first opened up for debate. It was less of a conversation and more of a shouting match between two very opposite sides. Ironically though, it wasn’t about racism. That’s what we’re told it’s about. We’re told that white people in our nation are still entrenched in a deep hate of anyone who has a different hue of skin than them. Of course racism still exists. There is, without a doubt, prejudice against people’s differences that exist in every facet of life, but that is inherent in every human being to some degree as we are tribalistic in our very nature. We overcome our biases through exposure and education, but I digress. The point is, the desire to not budge on the names of these bases is rooted in two “not racist” things: 1. Veterans who have spent their early, and in some cases entire, adult lives in service to this nation, and they’ve been stationed at these bases. The bases hold a deep emotional and sentimental meaning to them because of the blood, sweat and tears they’ve spilled while training on these lands. They’ve lost friends and loved ones, and the thought of having their “home” stripped of its name isn’t rooted in racism, but rather a sense of longing for a life once lived that will never leave their souls. It’s no different than the value you put on an article of clothing that’s been with you for years, or a locket your grandmother gave you, or childhood memories that you sometimes revisit because of the emotions they evoke within you. The names of these bases are attached to the memories, and they are deeply personal for many people. 2. There are many, even those who haven’t served, who simply don’t want to budge to a totalitarian crowd of bullies who are hellbent on stripping everything they disagree with from recorded history and trying to right some wrong through misguided and hateful means. There’s never any discussion with these clowns. They espouse the same racist and hateful diatribe they purport to oppose, and it’s ok for them because someone who had the same skin color as them once upon a time was heinously abused and made to be someone else’s property. I think most people today are deeply opposed to the notion of slavery and what was done in this country. Even more people nowadays are willing to have a conversation about it and maybe rethink some of the historical figures we hold on a pedestal. It doesn’t change the fact that history happened, we need to remember it rather than celebrate it, but the method of attacking this country by these movements, who are often not authentic to the name they hold, is downright violent and anti-American. I’m all for tearing down the statues of men who sold other men like cattle. We should be lifting up men who have served the common good of all in this country, and there are many examples of people to choose from, but I will not have a discussion with someone who spits in my face and calls me a racist for being white. I work on my prejudices everyday, regarding skin color, lifestyle choices, or anything else that may be different than what I’m used to, and I won’t have a conversation with anyone who violently claims I’m something that I’m not.
Now that I’ve spelled all of that out, let me state this very clearly; the names of these bases need to change, and they need to change now. We need to let it go. Regardless of all that I said about the emotional context of why we hold things near and dear, we need to get on the right side of this argument and realize that Confederate Generals were the enemy. We have no more ties to them than we do to something that took place in any other era prior to our birth. They lost, the union prevailed, and we have a million other heroes of our nation who we can easily replace the names of these bases with. In thirty years, when a generation of warfighters has come and gone, they won’t remember anything other than the names “Fort Carpenter, Fort Giunta, Fort Groberg, Fort Petry, Fort Pitts, or Fort Shurer.” We can remember the legacy of these places we called home while paying homage to the heroes we fought beside. I have no desire to fight a battle over a name that not only means nothing to me in legacy but also happened to be an enemy of this nation and fought for a portion of this nation that wanted to see men held in chains as property. I know what you sacrificed; I know the price you paid in blood and sweat to this nation. Absolutely ignore the mob as they try to burn everything they don’t like to the ground, but at the same time, recognize that we have served alongside giants of men, heroes and legends. Dying on a sword to preserve a name that meant nothing to us 20 years ago, and will ultimately mean nothing to another generation in 30 years, is not the answer. Our fight should be to etch the names of our brothers and sisters on these installations so we can memorialize those whose names should be remembered for ever. We have an opportunity, now let’s seize it.