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Letters to the Editor: Many Black soldiers train at bases named for racist Confederates. That’s unacceptable

Fort Hood
The entrance to Fort Hood in Texas. The Army base is named after Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood.
(Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: I appreciated the names recommended by Andrew Bacevich and Danny Sjursen for U.S. Army and National Guard installations currently named after Confederates. The list could be longer, but the standard is the same: no traitors.

As a Black veteran of the Vietnam war, I always thought it strange and egregious that Army forts were named after men who tried to destroy this nation for the perpetuation of slavery. The Army was the first branch of the military to integrate, but it still expected African American soldiers to train at bases named after men who despised them and wanted their enslavement.

I trained at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. Sam Houston was a slave owner, but he believed that he should not wage war against his country. He was governor when Texas seceded in 1861, and the legislature removed him over his refusal to support the Confederacy.

I can accept the name Fort Sam Houston. At least he was not a traitor.

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Sidney Morrison, Los Angeles

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To the editor: I join the majority in believing the time has come for changing the names of American forts currently named for men who took up arms against this nation from within and tried to destroy the United States only “four score and seven years” after its founding.

Daniel K. Inouye, one of the names recommended by Bacevich and Sjursen, was my senator for many years, so I offer just one correction. He more than “sustained several wounds” in the battles to free Italy; he lost an arm.

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His postwar history was no less illustrious in serving Hawaii and the nation.

Sheila Cassidy Federman, Ventura

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To the editor: After putting people on pedestals like Gods and saints, it’s understandable why one can be resistant to facing dark truths about their heroes.

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Whether that hero is a Confederate soldier who fought for the right to enslave his fellow man, or the husband and father who has engaged in unspeakable acts on his own family, or the once respected boss turned predator, it often requires great strength to remove one’s blinders as these former saints are revealed for who they really are.

In the case of statues of Confederate soldiers, I say relocate many of them to a museum of tolerance where the ugly history of what they fought for can be taught. For the hundreds of others still standing, simply new plaques can be added offering the unvarnished truth of what these figures really represent.

Kip Gilman, Los Angeles

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To the editor: What if we named military installations after peacemakers instead of warriors?

Imagine the ethos of a soldier trained or stationed at Camp Martin Luther King, Camp Clara Barton, Camp César Chavez or Camp Sacagawea.

Rob Aft, Rancho Park


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