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After George Floyd’s death, thousands of Americans are calling for an end to the Confederate and colonial symbols. This is the case of the leader of the House of Representatives, the Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who requested that 11 statues of Confederate leaders be removed. A movement that Donald Trump does not share, who opposes changing the name to 10 military bases, alleging that they have served to train heroes.
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, assured on Wednesday, June 10, that he refuses to change the name to the military bases that honour the Confederate generals and defenders of slavery who fought in the Civil War that occurred between 1861 and 1865.
Statements that contradict the Pentagon, after Monday, June 8, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy were “open to a bipartisan conversation about the theme”.
Trump took advantage, once again, of the social network Twitter to use his arguments and oppose the change of nomenclature of the 10 military bases located in the southern state of Fort Bragg (North Carolina); Fort Benning and Fort Gordon (Georgia); Fort Pickett, Fort AP Hill, and Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort Polk and Camp Beauregard (Louisiana), and Fort Rucker (Alabama):
“These monumental and very powerful bases have become part of a Great American Heritage and a history of victory, triumph, and freedom. The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these sacred grounds, and won two world wars. For therefore, my Administration will not even consider changing the name of these magnificent and legendary military installations. “
Statements that connect with those made by his White House spokesperson, Kayleigh McEnany, who assured that the president would veto a bill that tried to change the Confederate names:
“The president will not sign any law that changes the name to the United States forts”, because he considers it “unacceptable” and a lack of respect for the military that passed through those bases and lost their lives abroad, McEnany stressed in a Press conference.
Nancy Pelosi called for 11 Confederate statues to be removed from the Capitol
Donald Trump’s decision collides with the proposal by the Democratic leader of the majority of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who urged Congress to remove 11 statues that honour the memory of Confederate leaders.
“These statues pay homage to hatred, not inheritance. They must be removed,” Pelosi said, in a letter to leaders of the Congressional committee that is in charge of managing the statues on display on Capitol Hill.
This committee has members from both political parties and it is unclear how they will resolve this request. Capitol statues follow a long tradition in which each state sends two sculptures for display. Among the leaders on display are the General, Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy.
Nascar, southern states and the Army seek to resignify their symbols
In 1861, the southern states formed the Confederate States of America to avoid the repeal of slavery. An initiative that ended up being defeated by the northern states, managing to reestablish the country’s union.
Since George Floyd’s death on May 25, protesters across the country have risen up in protests against racism or oppression. Discriminations that connect with the symbols of the Confederation, as well as with its leaders. However, people like the President of the United States, Donald Trump, consider these icons as part of the pride and heritage of the South.
But things are changing. For example, Nascar, the automobile competition where fans usually wave the Confederate flag, said it will ban its display in their careers.
Also, Trump’s speech is meeting with opposition in southern states, which were important for his election in 2016. For example, Alabama or Virginia are withdrawing confederate symbols from their territories. While in Mississippi, the only state that maintains the Confederate emblem on its flag, the state Congress is drafting a bill to withdraw the symbol.
A movement that reaches out to the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Military institutions confirmed that they will ban any public display of the Confederate flag on their premises.
The fall of Christopher Columbus continues
In this context, statues continue to be demolished. The last one, in Saint Paul, Minnesota, sister city of Minneapolis, where George Floyd died. The sculpture honoured the Italian explorer Cristóbal Coón and was collapsed by a large group of people.
The protesters were led by Mike Forcia, a Native American activist, who claimed they did “the right thing, at the right time.” Native American activists have long opposed the tributes to Christopher Columbus, claiming that his expeditions led to colonization and genocide.
These acts are in addition to those that took place on Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia, where a statue of Columbus ended up in a lake, or in Boston, Massachusetts, where the head of the Italian explorer was decapitated.
Here are the 10 bases and the Confederate generals they’re named after:
Fort Benning – Henry Benning
Located in Georgia, the installation was established as a basic training ground during World War I. It is named after Henry Benning, a Confederate general, who was present at the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg.
Fort Bragg – Braxton Bragg
Located in North Carolina, this venue is largest military installation in the world. Established as an artillery training ground during World War I, the facility was named after Braxton Bragg, a U.S. Army officer who served in the Second Seminole War and Mexican-American War before becoming a Confederate Army general.
According to the History Channel, Bragg won the most significant Confederate victory in the Western Theater at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863. He was later defeated by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Chattanooga.
Fort Gordon – John Brown Gordon
Located in Georgia, the installation was founded as a training site for World War I. It is named after John Brown Gordon, a Confederate general who Robert E. Lee called one of his most trusted generals despite having no prior military training.
Fort Hood – John Bell Hood
Located in Texas, the venue was founded during World War II and used to test tanks to counter those used by Germany. It was named after John Bell Hood, a Confederate military officer who was promoted to full general in 1864.
His series of bold offensives on the Union Army that year proved ineffective, and he was demoted back to lieutenant general in 1865.
Fort Lee – Robert E. Lee
Located in Virginia, the installation was first established during the Civil War and named after Gen. Robert. E. Lee.
According to the History Channel, Lee’s battlefield leadership earned him a reputation as one of the greatest military leaders in history as he consistently defeated larger Union armies. He fought against Union forces at Antietam and Gettysburg before surrendering to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in 1865.
Fort Pickett – George Pickett
Located in Virginia, the site was founded during World War II and named after Confederate Gen. George Pickett. He is most remembered for an infantry assault against Union soldiers at the Battle of Gettysburg that result in heavy losses for the Confederate army.
Fort Polk – Leonidas Polk
Located in Louisiana, the facility was founded as a training ground during World War II. It is named after Leonidas Polk, a bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana who became a Confederate general.
Polk was killed in action in Georgia in 1864.
Fort Rucker – Edmund Rucker
Located in Alabama, the facility was opened during World War II and named after Col. Edmund Rucker. Rucker was given the honorary title of general.
During the Battle of Nashville in late 1864, Rucker was wounded and captured. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forest, later the Ku Klux Klan’s first Grand Wizard, organized for his release the following year.