The congressional push to remove Confederate names from Pentagon properties, including storied Army posts, could eventually affect hundreds of items and facilities, the chair of the Naming Commission said Friday.
Michelle Howard, a retired Navy admiral who heads the commission, told reporters her group began its work in March, with an interim report due to Congress in October and a final report a year later.
She said the eight-member group is still developing the renaming criteria and will begin its site visits with a trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. The academy has a barracks named for Robert E. Lee, commanding general of the rebel army of the Confederate States of America.
Howard said the commission is required by Congress to consider renaming “anything that commemorates the Confederate States of America or any person that served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.”
This applies only to Defense Department properties, not state-owned military facilities.
Public scrutiny has been focused on Army bases such as Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which is named for Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, and Fort Benning, Georgia, named for Brig. Gen. Henry L. Benning.
Howard said the commission will more broadly consider the names of military base streets, for example, as well as ships, aircraft and Defense Department buildings.
The only federal military items explicitly exempted by the legislation are grave markers, she said.
“Once we get down to looking at buildings and street names, it potentially could run into the hundreds,” she said.
The Navy has identified for renaming consideration the USNS Maury, an oceanographic survey ship that was named for Cmdr. Matthew Maury, who resigned from the U.S. Navy to join the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Howard said a key part of the commission’s work will be consulting with local leaders to consider their views.
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