• Nothing on post named for Confederates

  • People Behind Place Names

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  • Quentin Schillare | Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp
    How do places on Fort Leavenworth get named? As you would expect, there is a regulation for that. Is it always easy? No!
    Army Regulation 1-33, “The Army Memorial Program,” establishes the policies, procedures, and responsibilities for memorialization of deceased — and in some cases living — people on active Army installations, Army Reserve Centers and Army National Guard property. A memo from the Army Installation Management Command further delegates the authority to approve memorials, within certain limits, to garrison commanders.
    Many Army organizations, including Fort Leavenworth, have supplements implementing the program at the local level. Fort Leavenworth has a committee directed by the regulation to “carefully evaluate each memorialization to select only the most deserving persons, installations, activities, facilities, areas, sites, buildings, rooms and streets to be named in honor of those who served with valor or distinction.”
    Fort Leavenworth has more than 200 streets, buildings and other features (statues, parks, lakes, etc.) named as memorials. The first two formally named buildings on Fort Leavenworth were Saint Ignatius Chapel, named when it was completed in 1889, and Sherman Hall, named in 1890 after the Army received written permission from the retired Civil War hero. The Grant Statue was completed in 1889.
    There are 38 streets and buildings named to honor veterans of the Civil War. With the exception of some non- commissioned officer namesake streets near Hancock Gate dedicated in the last 25 years, these locations are in the Fort Leavenworth National Historic Landmark District, the area around Main Post. They were named when they were built in the period between the Civil War and World War I.
    Those familiar with the names on the land of Fort Leavenworth will notice that none is named for a U.S. Army officer who resigned his commission to fight for the Confederacy. This was intentional. Those doing the naming were the classmates, friends, comrades and subordinates of the men commemorated. Regardless of the hazy American folk myth of immediate reconciliation after Appomattox 152 years ago, the veterans who remained faithful to the Union and their successors were not going to recognize those who were not.
    There are many Army installations named for Confederate generals. However, these are mostly in the South and were named in the 20th century when adherence to the “Lost Cause” supported nationalism against foreign foes.
    There is one place on Fort Leavenworth where former Confederate officers are remembered. Joseph E. Johnston and Robert E. Lee, classmates in the U.S. Military Academy class of 1829, had long and distinguished U.S. Army careers before their resignations. James E.B. Stuart (USMA 1854) served for less than seven years before his resignation. They were inducted into the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame a generation ago. At that time, a romantic rendering of history made them worthy of inclusion.
    Page 2 of 2 - The tragic shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., in June 2015 left nine people dead and three injured. Whatever the evil motives of the white supremacist perpetrator, the incident reignited a national discussion on how Americans remember and commemorate the dark days from April 1861 to April 1865.
    Fort Leavenworth may be spared having to review monuments to Confederates, but it is still faced with a dilemma. If former rebels are not represented, what about the 11 Native American nation namesakes for post housing areas? While they cannot be accused of treason for taking up arms against the United States to protect their way of life, at some point they were enemies of the U.S. and its military forces. When does a former enemy become a friend and worthy of commemoration?
    It seems that in the case of the defeated Confederacy, the burden of its cause to maintain a way of life now considered inimical to American values means that we will not see any more such commemorations. Regarding Native American nations, attitudes toward them have softened with the passage of time and the tradition of recognizing their fight for their land and traditions by naming housing areas after them will continue.
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