WASHINGTON, DC — The following is the statement of retired Major General Paul D. Eaton, senior advisor to VoteVets, on the Army’s consideration of renaming bases that are named after Confederate military leaders. There are ten such bases in the United States: Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard. Eaton said:
“As a former commanding general at Fort Benning, it didn’t escape me that I was going to work every day at a base named for a Confederate General and traitor to the United States, a racist and an incompetent warfighter. Worse, the base was not named after him as a goodwill gesture after the Civil War. It was named more than fifty years after the South surrendered, as a way of reasserting the racism that the south stood for. I regret I did not act then, on conscience.
“As a white man, I cannot even fathom what it feels like for a black soldier to enter the gates that bear his name, every day. I cannot imagine what it feels like for soldiers across the country to serve on one of the nine other bases similarly named after Confederate officers. I can only imagine it would feel like a Jewish soldier being told to serve at Camp Rommel or Camp Goring – military leaders who similarly waged war against the United States to establish racial dominance.
“If the Army is going to be true to the idea that it judges its people by their skills and qualifications, and not their race, having bases named after those who believed otherwise is incompatible with the Army itself.
“The Secretary of the Army should order these bases renamed, today. This does not take an act of Congress. This does not require a conversation. It requires courage and action now.”