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US military base to drop Confederate name to honor WWII soldier

US military base to drop Confederate name to honor WWII soldier
Source: Pixabay

The United States will on Friday rename the Fort Pickett military base in Virginia to honor an American soldier decorated for heroism during World War II instead of a general who fought for the pro-slavery breakaway Confederacy.

The 41,000-acre Virginia National Guard installation near the town of Blackstone is the first of nine American military bases slated to drop the names of figures who served the Confederate States of America, the group of southern states that seceded from the Union and were defeated in the 1861-1865 US Civil War.

The base will be renamed to honor Van Barfoot, a US soldier who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and reached the rank of colonel.

Barfoot received the Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest military award for valor — for actions including taking out two German machine gun nests, capturing 17 enemy soldiers, destroying a tank and an artillery piece and aiding wounded troops in Italy in 1944.

Fort Pickett was named for Confederate major general George Pickett, who led three brigades in an assault on Union troops during the Battle of Gettysburg that became known as “Pickett’s Charge.”

The general — who graduated last in his class from West Point and served in the Mexican-American war before resigning his commission to join the Confederacy — lost over half his command in the attack, which was ordered by general Robert E. Lee.

The Confederacy lost the battle and the war, but Pickett survived both and later worked as a farmer and insurance salesman.

Calls to rename the bases — all of which are located in southern states that seceded and briefly formed the Confederacy — gained momentum during nationwide protests against racism and police brutality that were sparked by the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

In the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021, Congress required the establishment of 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.

Then-president Donald Trump opposed the renaming effort, tweeting in 2020 that his administration “will not even consider” changing the names of the bases, which “have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.”

He vetoed the defense bill, but Congress overrode it in a blow to Trump, who by then had lost his bid for presidential re-election to Joe Biden.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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