The United States on Friday dropped a Confederate general’s name from the last of nine bases that honored figures from pro-slavery breakaway southern states, renaming it for former president and famed World War II commander Dwight D. Eisenhower.
It marks the culmination of a multi-year effort to remove the names of people who served the Confederate States of America — which was defeated in the 1861-1865 US Civil War — from the country’s military installations.
“It is with great pride that we rename this installation in honor of one of our great generals and presidents,” US Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said during a ceremony at the base, which was formerly known as Fort Gordon.
Eisenhower was supreme commander of the troops who assaulted Nazi positions in France on D-Day in 1944 and directed subsequent operations that, in concert with Soviet attacks, brought about Germany’s surrender the following year.
After the war, he served as chief of staff of the Army and then as NATO’s first supreme allied commander. He was later elected as the 34th president of the United States, a position he held from 1953 to 1961.
The newly renamed Fort Eisenhower, in Georgia, was a training center during World War II and also prepared troops for service in subsequent conflicts. It is the home of the US Army Cyber Command headquarters and the Army Cyber Center of Excellence.
The base was previously named for John B. Gordon, who reached the rank of lieutenant general in the Confederacy’s forces and was known as an effective officer despite having no military experience before the Civil War.
He was wounded multiple times during the conflict. After its conclusion, he was elected to the US Senate and also served as governor of Georgia.
Calls to change the names of bases honoring Confederate figures gained momentum during nationwide protests against racism and police brutality that were sparked by the 2020 murder of George Floyd, an African American man who died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
In 2021, Congress required a commission to plan for the removal of Confederate-linked “names, symbols, displays, monuments, or paraphernalia” from Defense Department property, and gave the secretary three years to carry out its recommendations.
“It was a moment of unrest and significant division in our country. And both political parties overwhelmingly agreed that names on certain military installations — and the legacies of those names — were only deepening our social and political divides,” Wormuth said.
Then-president Donald Trump opposed the renaming effort and vetoed the defense bill, but Congress overrode it.