Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy is now open to renaming 10 bases that were long ago named after Confederate leaders, an Army official said.
McCarthy is considering what step to take next and he plans to consult with Congress and key stakeholders, the official said.
Politico's Lara Seligman first reported news of the potential change on Monday.
The long-standing issue of why the Army honors Confederate officers who betrayed their country during the Civil War came under renewed scrutiny in February when Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger announced that Confederate flags and other paraphernalia would be banned from Corps installations.
“In doing so, I am mindful that many people believe the flag to be a symbol of heritage or regional pride,” Berger wrote in an April 20 message to Marines. “But I am also mindful of the feelings of pain and rejection of those who inherited the cultural memory and present effects of the scourge of slavery in our country.”
McCarthy’s thinking on this matter appears to have changed since February, when an Army spokesman told Task & Purpose that the service was not considering renaming any of the 10 bases named for Confederates.
One of those bases is named for Maj. General George E. Pickett, who ordered the executions of 22 Union prisoners of war because they had previously served in the Confederate army. He was not prosecuted after the war.
The New York Times published a May 23 editorial arguing that Army bases should not be named for traitors, including Lt. Gen. John Brown Gordon, who is believed to have become a Ku Klux Klan leader following the Civil War.
“The editorial argues that bases such as Fort Benning, Ga., which is named after a Confederate general who was a vocal proponent of slavery and secession, are an insult to the ideals that American servicemen and women are sworn to uphold,” Kathleen Kingsbury, deputy editorial page editor of The New York Times, told Task & Purpose last month.