Fort Bragg is going to be renamed.
Last year, Congress passed a law that forced the renaming of military bases with ties to the Confederacy like Fort Bragg, named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg.
Now, a Commission from Washington, D.C. is meeting to develop a report on base renaming for the Secretary of Defense.
If our community doesn’t engage, it will be this Commission that decides the new name of our base. I think that is wrong.
In June 2020, when Congress was considering this move, I said any decision regarding renaming the base should be made by the Fort Bragg community. I still believe that is the case.
This is a very tough issue for many in our community and I appreciate that there is a lot of passion on both sides.
Now is the time for our community to come together. We need to respect one another and listen to one another. We can let this situation tear us apart, or we can use it to bring us together.
Whether you agree or disagree, Braxton Bragg’s name will be removed from the base. Despite my belief that we should remove his name, I recognize the name Fort Bragg has meaning that transcends Braxton Bragg.
When I visit with heads of state anywhere in the world and I tell them I represent Fort Bragg, their eyes light up. The reason is because the world recognizes and respects the men and women of our Airborne and Special Forces who have fought, bled and died to free the oppressed and spread peace and liberty throughout the world. Their sacrifices, as well as those by every family who has been stationed at Fort Bragg, should be honored.
On Aug. 11, the Renaming Commission held a meeting with several community leaders at Fort Bragg. Before their meeting, I spoke with members of the Commission and I challenged them to do a better job to engage and listen to key voices across our community.
Several new names for Fort Bragg were suggested at that meeting, but one stands out. One name suggested, in my opinion, erases any stigma associated with Braxton Bragg while also recognizing the heritage associated with our Airborne and Special Forces communities. That name is of an accomplished Union General in the Civil War who was later a Member of Congress and the U.S. Minister to Mexico.
His name is Edward S. Bragg.
There is precedent for a community coming together to replace an obscure but controversial name with a more positive choice with the same last name. Seattle is in King County, Washington. King County was originally named for William King, a person later found unacceptable because he was a slave owner. In 1986, the County Council renamed the County to instead honor Martin Luther King Jr. This decision allowed the community to come together and turn the page in a unifying way. I believe it is an example we should consider.
While Edward S. Bragg is one name that should be considered, I do not suggest that I alone should choose the new name of Fort Bragg any more than a Commission full of people who do not live in our community should. This needs to be a community decision, but we need to act quickly.
According to the Commission’s timeline, we have until the middle of September before members release their initial report to the Secretary of Defense.
I believe your voice and the voices of our community need to be heard. The local elected leaders in Cumberland and surrounding counties need to weigh in. We also need to hear from the Chamber of Commerce and our local veteran organizations.
The Commission will soon have a website allowing people to submit comments directly about renaming. In the meantime, organizations and folks should engage with local elected leaders, community leaders, or contact my office through my website at Hudson.House.Gov and I will be happy to relay your opinions, letters or resolutions to the Commission on your behalf.
Fort Bragg is going to be renamed whether we like it or not. If our community doesn’t come together with a consensus name, one will be chosen for us. I believe the consensus name that could unite us is Edward S. Bragg.
Now it’s time for our local elected and community leaders to join this discussion and bring us together. I stand ready to help.
Pictured above: Many are calling for Fort Bragg to be renamed Fort Bragg in honor of Union General Edward S. Bragg. (Photo courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)