Fort Liberty signals new era, raises questions around changing street names off post

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Saturday, June 3, 2023
Questions raised about changing street names off the Fort Liberty post
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Fort Liberty is the sixth army installation to undergo renaming. It's a change that some veterans view as a small but important step in making the U.S. Army more welcoming.

FORT LIBERTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran Matthew Smith grew up in Fayetteville and served 27 years in the Army. He spoke with ABC11 outside VFW Post 6018 about the renaming.

"Fort Bragg itself is a name people will never forget," said Smith. "The name Fort Liberty sounds pretty good to me. Even when they decided the name I said yeah, that's alright."

There is an emotional attachment to the name Fort Bragg that Specialist Juan Hernandez can't shake.

"The spirit of Fort Bragg is still be there. You can change the name, but everyone who served and still knows Fort Bragg in North Carolina will still call it Bragg regardless," he said.

RELATED | Confederate namesake Bragg dropped in favor of Fort Liberty as part of US Army base rebranding

On Friday morning during the re-designation ceremony, there was a 15 gun salute and uncasing of the garrison colors. This move by the U.S. military renames nine army bases that honor confederates. Experts believe this kind of recognition of the Confederacy emerged in the 1890's and lasted through the Civil Rights Movement.

"Braxton Bragg himself was of course a former general who fought in a couple wars. Most notably, he fought in the Civil War against the USA. He was also a major slave owner and plantation owner," said UNC Chapel Hill History professor William Sturkey. "People really wanted to celebrate confederate generals and this is the ending of that I think."

Fort Liberty is the sixth army installation to undergo renaming. The other three should be complete by 2024. There's a larger conversation up for discussion as some hope the city of Fayetteville follows the example a Fort Liberty leads the way.

"So by changing the post from Fort Bragg, now you're on Bragg road or boulevard," he said. "So change the name of the street too."

WATCH | Ceremony to mark Fort Liberty name change

RELATED | 'Overdue.' Military members, veterans weigh in on Bragg transition to Fort Liberty