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WTVM Editorial 7/13/21: Local Military Legacy

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 3:41 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - When the Army created a military installation in Columbus in 1918, it was named after Confederate General Henry Benning. His claim to fame included being at the Battle of Gettysburg, which turned out to be a major victory - for Union forces.

After World War I, the prevailing thought was to give some southern Army bases Confederate names as a conciliatory gesture; a way of recognizing that after the Civil War we were again one country.

But 103 years later, times change and so too will the name of Fort Benning.

A recent web poll on WTVM.com showed that an overwhelming majority of respondents do not want Fort Benning to be renamed. But the renaming is inevitable because of a literal act of Congress, the creation of the Naming Commission, which will include high ranking veterans and academics.

Benning never achieved great military fame, but the base that bears his name has been headquarters for outstanding military heroes including Generals Pershing, Patton, and Eisenhower.

That’s why renaming historic military bases is an emotional issue, especially for many veterans.

The name will change, but nothing can change the history of the many achievements at the base, including where Army Rangers earn their exclusive black and gold Ranger’s tab.

It will take years for the Naming Commission to solicit input and opinions from local leaders like Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson. He says about the base, “You can call it anything you want, but it’s still about the soldiers.”

He’s right.

No matter the name of the base, it is always the soldiers that pass through Fort Benning who create and uphold its military legacy.

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