Congress recently overrode President Trump’s veto of the $740 billion Defense Authorization bill. The vote was 322-87 in the House and 81-13 in the Senate, with North Carolina’s senators Burr and Tillis voting to sustain the veto.
The bill affirms a 3 percent pay raise for U.S. troops. Included is a provision requiring that military bases named after Confederate generals must be renamed.
There are 10 such bases, all located in former Confederate states. They are: Fort Benning (Georgia); Fort Bragg (North Carolina); Fort Hood (Texas); Fort Lee (Virginia); Fort Polk (Louisiana); Fort Gordon (Georgia); Fort Pickett (Virginia); Fort A.P. Hill (Virginia); Fort Rucker (Alabama); and Fort Beauregard (Louisiana).
Nearby Fort Bragg was named for Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg, a native of North Carolina, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1837 fifth in his class. He was assigned to the 3rd Artillery and served with distinction in the Mexican War.
A controversial officer, he was considered the most cantankerous officer in the U.S. Army. Before the Civil War, he was court-martialed and censured by the secretary of War. Civil War historian James M. McPherson refers to “the Confederate bumblers like Bragg, Pemberton and Hood who lost the West.”
Bragg’s sour disposition, penchant for blaming others for defeat and bad interpersonal skills caused him to be directly criticized by contemporary high ranking Southern officers during and after the Civil War.
Fort Bragg, originally called Camp Bragg, was established 102 years ago as an artillery training ground. The camp airfield was built in 1919 and named after 1st Lt. Harley H. Pope, an airman who was killed flying nearby.
The base was officially renamed Fort Bragg in 1922, when permanent structures were constructed, including four barracks. Today it covers 251 square miles and has a permanent population of 39,457, with about 57,000 troops stationed there.
The question now is, what will the Army rename Fort Bragg? Congressman Richard Hudson’s office has advised that name recommendations should come from residents living at Fort Bragg. I strongly disagree. I think Pentagon officials in charge of renaming Confederate bases should have the final say and should name them for distinguished American military leaders.
Several come to mind: Grant, Sherman, Pershing, Eisenhower and Bradley. My choice would be Gen. George Catlett Marshall Jr., who resided in Pinehurst for 15 years.
Marshall and his second wife, Katherine Boyce Tupper Brown, spent winters at Liscombe Cottage at 75 Linden Road from late 1944 until his death in 1959. He had many friends who were stationed at Fort Bragg and, as a horseman, often rode from Pinehurst to the fort to visit the facility.
Marshall graduated in 1901 from Virginia Military Institute. He was first stationed in the Philippines and later served in World War I as Gen. John J. Pershing’s aide-de-camp. His plans for the 1918 Meuse-Argonne offensive specified the nighttime movement of 600,000 American soldiers; 2,700 guns; 93,000 horses; and a million tons of supplies and ammunition in slightly less than two weeks from one battlefield to another. The men had to move over 60 miles undetected at night.
He had been given less than 24 hours to develop the plan. The successful American offensive led to the German Army’s collapse and the armistice.
Before World War II broke out, Marshall oversaw instruction of thousands of officers, including 150 future generals, who would become America’s war leaders. Gen. Marshall’s career highlights include: chief of staff from 1939 to 1945; envoy to China from 1945 to 1947; secretary of State from 1947 to 1949; president of the American Red Cross from 1949 to 1950; and secretary of Defense from 1950 to 1951.
On June 5, 1947, he presented — in a speech at Harvard University — a proposal to help war-torn Europe save itself by pouring in tremendous amounts of U.S money and matériel. The result was the successful “Marshall Plan.” It directly changed the destiny of 200 million Europeans and generations to follow.
In December 1953, he became the only military man in history to win the Nobel Peace Prize. After his death, a privately financed and operated research center was built in Lexington,Va., to make available his papers. It was dedicated by Presidents Johnson and Eisenhower.
Marshall was buried at Arlington Cemetery. Members of the Tufts family, who founded Pinehurst, honored their famed resident with a large granite monument, which is located in Marshall Park, 20 yards from the brick walkway parallel to Carolina Vista. Pay it a visit sometime.
If you would like the Pentagon to rename Fort Bragg after George Marshall, I suggest you write to your representative, senator or officials at the Pentagon. It would be a fitting tribute to the general.
Paul R. Dunn, author of “The Secret War Diaries of Abraham Lincoln,” can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.