The US Army officially redesignated its largest military base as Fort Liberty on Friday. Its previous name, Fort Bragg, was changed in the ongoing purge of all references to the Confederacy, launched after the 2020 George Floyd protests and riots.
“The name Liberty honors the heroism, sacrifices, and values of the soldiers, service members, civilians, and families who live and serve with this installation,” the XVIII Airborne Corps said in a statement. “We view this as the next chapter in our history and look forward to honoring the stories of our military heroes from every generation and walk of life.”
A community team charged with choosing a new name considered numerous Medal of Honor recipients, including Sergeant Alvin York, a hero of the World War I, but could not reach a consensus, said the corps commander, Lieutenant General Chris Donahue.
“There was no right name. There were no names that could define what this post is all about,” said Donahue. “Liberty has always been here. Liberty has always been ingrained in this area.”
The 250-square mile (650 square km) facility is considered one of the largest military installations in the world. It is the home of the XVIII Airborne Corps, the 82nd Airborne Division, the Delta Force, the US Army Special Operations Command, the Reserve Command, and the Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command. Since its creation in 1918, it bore the name of Confederate General Braxton Bragg, a native of North Carolina.
The civil war of 1861-1865, in which seceding slave-holding states of the Confederacy fought against the Union troops, was the bloodiest conflict in US history, claiming the lives of at least 620,000 soldiers on both sides.
While expanding the US military for World War I, President Woodrow Wilson in 1917 championed naming the army bases located in the South after Confederate officers. As late as 2017, the Pentagon had fended off demands to rename the facilities by activists who argued that honoring the Confederacy in any way was racist.
In 2021, however, the Democrat-majority Congress cited the previous year’s Black Lives Matter protests to recommend a purge of all Confederate references. Five other bases have been renamed so far: Fort Pickett and Fort Lee in Virginia, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Rucker in Alabama, and Fort Benning in Georgia. Three more – Fort Gordon, Fort AP Hill, and Fort Polk – will have their names changed in the future.