The Fort Fisher Recreation Area, operated by the Air Force and Army National Guard, is among the latest round of suggestions for a name change by the Congressional-appointed Renaming Commission tasked with eradicating all remnants of the Confederacy in Department of Defense assets.
The commission on Tuesday announced its recommendations for assets not addressed in two reports released earlier this summer. The commission held a virtual news conference to discuss some of its recommendations.
The recommendations will be detailed in the forthcoming third and final part of the commission’s report to Congress, which is due by Oct. 1. Retired Army Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, the commission’s vice chair, said the commission will provide the final report to Congress ahead of the Oct. 1 due date.
He also said that after 19 months and 32 meetings, the commission finished its task before the deadline and under budget, and will return $1.7 million to Congress. Congress established the commission’s budget at $2 million.
The commission was mandated by the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to identify installations and assets whose names commemorate the Confederacy.
The first part of the report on Aug. 8 recommended names for nine Army posts, and the second Aug. 29 report dealt with Confederate assets and heraldry at the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy. In the first report, the commission recommended renaming Fort Bragg to Fort Liberty and estimated the price for renaming the post at $6.2 million.
The third part of the report covers all other categories, including memorialization and naming processes; inactive, decommissioned or obsolete assets; gifts, awards and scholarships; heraldic items; civil works; and assets that may be identified in the future, according to a news release published shortly before the news conference.
The Fort Fisher Recreation Area is managed by the Air Force, Army National Guard and the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point. It is just north of Fort Fisher State Park and the aquarium and south of the Fort Fisher historic site. The federally-owned area provides recreational activities and lodging as well as training events for DOD-eligible groups. It is located between Kure Beach and Fort Fisher Boulevard.
The adjacent historic Fort Fisher is the site of a major Civil War battle won by federal land and amphibious forces that closed the last Confederate port at Southport. It is named after Col. Charles Fisher of Salisbury, a Confederate officer killed in action in 1861, thereby recommended for renaming.
The third part of the report also includes recommendations specifically for the Army, Navy and Air Force. The report suggests the Army focus on several of its vessels and the Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, along with previously announced recommendations for heraldic items at the service academies.
It will also include more detailed information on the commission’s decision, published in its first report, to not make a renaming recommendation for Fort Belvoir, Virginia, while encouraging the Department of Defense to conduct its own review of the base for potential renaming.
Renaming recommendations for the Navy in the third report will include the USS Chancellorsville and USNS Maury. For the Air Force, the primary recommendation will be to rename the Fort Fisher Recreation Area in North Carolina.
The commission looked at the USS Chancellorsville because it is named after the Battle of Chancellorsville, a major Confederate victory in 1863. The ship also had portraits of Confederate generals Lee and Jackson. The USNS Maury is named after a Virginian and long-time U.S. Navy commander who resigned his commission to join the Confederacy.
The commission did not recommend names for the ships because the secretary of the Navy historically is responsible for naming ships, according to commission members.
The commission also recommended the Army remove the top portion of a Confederate memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1900, Congress authorized Confederate remains to be reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery. A Confederate memorial was erected there in 1914. Grave markers of Confederate soldiers will not be removed, according to the commission’s director of public affairs.
“The memorial at Arlington is NOT a grave marker, so it is not exempt from removal or modification. The surrounding grave markers near the memorial will not be disturbed,” Stephen Baker wrote in an email.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has up to a year to implement the recommendations once Congress has reviewed the final part of the report.
The final cost estimate for all commission recommendations is nearly $62.5 million. This includes $21 million for all of the recommendations in the first report, $451,000 for the recommendations in the second report, and nearly $41 million for all of the recommendations in the third report, according to the commission release.