Pols want Confederate names removed from Fort Hamilton streets

June 11, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Pols want Confederate names removed from Fort Hamilton streets
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U.S. Reps. Max Rose and Yvette Clarke want the names of two Confederate generals removed from streets at the Fort Hamilton Army Base.

The pols wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper asking that the names of Stonewall Jackson Drive and General Lee Avenue be changed.

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee both served at Fort Hamilton early in their careers.

According to Politico, the Army may consider re-designating bases that are named for Confederate leaders.

“The Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army are open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic,” wrote Army spokesperson Col. Sunset Belinsky in a statement Monday, June 8.

However, the statement added, “Each Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a significant place in our military history. Accordingly, the historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies.”

Rose and Clarke wrote, “While we were encouraged by news this week that the Army might consider renaming military installations named after Confederate generals, men who violated that oath to our country, we are similarly disturbed by recent social media posts suggesting that these names are part of a ‘Great American Heritage’ and are ‘Hallowed Ground. Shiloh, Antietam and Gettysburg are hallowed ground, places where Americans gave their lives to end the practice of slavery in our country; bases named after men who sought to keep their fellow men and women in bondage are not. We hope that you will act swiftly to rename the streets in Fort Hamilton and all places named after Confederate figures.”

The tweets referred to in the letter by Rose and Clarke were written by President Donald Trump, who said he won’t consider renaming military bases.

“These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday, June 10. “The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!”

Rose and Clarke wrote, “It is impossible to disentangle these men’s identities as individuals from the cause they rebelled against our nation to defend. U.S. military bases and property should be named after men and women who’ve served our nation with honor and distinction, not sought to tear it apart to uphold white supremacy. And American servicemembers deserve to serve on bases that honor their ancestors’ contributions to our nation, not those who fought to hold those same ancestors in bondage. Our Armed Forces should not honor men who divided this country in the cause of slavery.”

In a joint statement on June 3, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy addressed the topic.

“Over the past week, the country has suffered an explosion of frustration over the racial divisions that still plague us as Americans,” they wrote. “And because your Army is a reflection of American society, those divisions live in the Army as well. We feel the frustration and anger. We felt it this week while traveling through the nation’s capital with the D.C. National Guard. We feel it, even though we can never fully understand the frustration and life experiences of people of color, in or out of uniform. But we do understand the importance of taking care of people, and of treating every person with dignity and respect.

“To Army leaders of all ranks, listen to your people, but don’t wait for them to come to you. Go to them. Ask the uncomfortable questions. Lead with compassion and humility, and create an environment in which people feel comfortable expressing grievances. Let us be the first to set the example. We are listening. And we will continue to put people first as long as we are leading the Army. Because people are our greatest strength.”

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