Community members with ideas on who or what they’d like to see Fort Bragg named after can start submitting ideas.
Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg’s garrison commander, spent the week communicating with residents about how the process to rename the country’s most populated military installation came about and what’s next.
Pence started the week speaking to Col. Joe Buccino, the 18th Airborne Corps’ historian and spokesman, on a podcast about the matter.
In Monday’s edition of the 18th Airborne Corps’ podcast, Pence said the decision to rename Fort Bragg is a congressional mandate to rename all Army installations that are named after Confederate leaders.
Fort Bragg was established as Camp Bragg in 1918 and named after Gen. Braxton Bragg, a North Carolina native who served during the Mexican-American War and also was a slave owner who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, Buccino said.
Former President Donald Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, which was overridden by Congress in January to require the changes no later than 2023 for nine installations.
The urgency of receiving community input, Pence said, is because the House Armed Service Committee and Senate Armed Service Committee are asking for an updated report by October along with possible ideas on what to rename the post.
“The important thing that we have to do now is to make sure that any names that are discussed at that level of Congress are ones that are acceptable to the community,” Pence said. “We don’t want to be forced with something that comes out of our community and out of our sphere of influence.”
In an Aug. 27 letter to the editor, Rep. Richard Hudson, whose congressional district includes Fort Bragg, said that if the community doesn’t engage in the renaming process, the renaming commission will decide on the new name for Fort Bragg.
The national eight-member renaming commission includes military retirees and others appointed by the secretary of defense and congressional armed services committees.
When Congress considered the renaming in June 2020, Hudson said any decision about renaming the post should be made by the Fort Bragg community.
“Whether you agree or disagree, Braxton Bragg’s name will be removed,” Hudson said.
Hudson said he recognizes that the name Fort Bragg transcends Braxton Bragg and that others associate the name as being home to the airborne and Special Forces “who have fought, bled and died to free the oppressed and spread peace and liberty throughout the globe.”
He suggested consideration of renaming the local post after Edward S. Bragg, a Union cousin of Braxton Bragg.
Hudson said there’s been a similar precedent of changing King County, Washington, from being associated with slave owner William King to having the name honor Martin Luther King Jr.
Though Hudson said he thinks Edward S. Bragg’s name should be considered, he said the local elected leaders of Cumberland County, the surrounding counties, Greater Fayetteville Chamber and local veteran organizations should be heard.
“Fort Bragg is going to be renamed whether we like it or not,” he said. “If our community doesn’t come together with a consensus name, one will be chosen for us.”
During Monday’s podcast, Buccino said Fort Bragg doesn’t necessarily have to be renamed after an individual but rather could be named after a virtue or idea such as “Fort Liberty or Fort Valor.”
Speaking to media Tuesday, Pence said Fort Bragg representatives have already started taking inventory of signs, roads and buildings that bear Confederate names. The list is eight pages long.
He said renaming roads will be at the discretion of Fort Bragg leaders, such as renaming Armistead to 18th Street, because of its proximity to the 18th Airborne Corps’ headquarters.
The actual installation renaming is something he said is important for community members to provide input on.
“When we talk community, we’re talking with people who have a direct emotive connection with this installation that deserve to have their voices heard,” Pence said.
Pence said the five letters the installation currently bears transcends beyond the person it is named after, and that changing the name won’t take away from the actions of the soldiers and leaders who have served or are currently serving here.
After reports are made to the congressional committees by next month, retired Gen. Dan McNeill, a former 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg commander who still lives in the area, will remain a liaison with the local community and national committee that is updating Congress on the renaming process, Pence said.
Residents who would like to suggest a possible name for consideration can provide feedback on the Fort Bragg garrison commander’s Facebook page, thenamingcommission.gov or through Fort Bragg’s website.
Fayetteville Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jansen will also host a virtual town hall meeting on the topic at 11 a.m. Tuesday, where residents can ask questions and provide comments.
“We don’t want to be caught flat-footed,” Pence said. “Every minute we spend now trying to get to know what names are acceptable is time well-spent, whether it happens next month or next year,” Pence said.
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