FORT BARFOOT IS THE FIRST RENAMED ARMY BASE DUE TO CONFEDERACY
By Buddy Blouin
Changing the names of military installations is nothing new. It’s especially nothing new when you widen the scope to other buildings, streets, regions, etc. that apply both inside and outside of government entities. But the Fort Pickett name change is still a striking moment as it signifies the first time an Army base is going to change its moniker due to ties to the Confederacy. The Naming Commission has designated the Virginia Army National Guard installation outside of Blackstone is going to go by Fort Barfoot to honor a native of Old Dominion who served during World War II.
Fort Pickett Is Now Fort BarfootThe U.S. Army is set to welcome Fort Barfoot as the Fort Pickett name change looks to be underway. After it was found to have ties to the Confederate army, recommendations came down to change the name of the fort that is home to the National Guard. Fort Pickett gets its name from George Edward Pickett who was a general fighting for the Confederate army. The base naming to Fort Barfoot comes as a plan to replace Confederate names with those deemed more inclusive and deserving. Col. Van T. Barfoot is the inspiration for the military base 60 miles south of Richmond, Virginia. As a native of Virginia, Col. Barfoot would answer the call to serve in the United States Army after enlisting in 1940. As you may or may not remember, this was just around the time that the United States would be dragged into World War II following the events of Pearl Harbor. Barfoot would become a World War II Medal of Honor recipient due to his heroic actions during an assault in Italy in May 1944. But military life wasn’t just a calling for the conflict at hand. It would be many years before Col. Barfoot would exit the Army. Serving as a Soldier for decades, Barfoot would retire in 1970 after an illustrious military career of service.
Fort Pickett New Name Due to Naming CommissionThe Naming Commission is a committee created under the direction of Congress to review ties the U.S. military's ties and references to the Confederate rebels. After seceding from the United States, controversies continue to spark as they were tied to helping protect and grow slavery in the South. There are plenty of bases that are slated to undergo name changes within the next year, including Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and Fort Hood, Texas. Pickett’s failed maneuvers at the Battle of Gettysburg would lead to many Confederate casualties and now his namesake is being replaced by a man of much greater success. "It is such a tremendous honor to name an installation where military forces train to defend our freedoms in honor of Col. Van T. Barfoot. His magnificent military career was marked by heroism and decades of selfless service to our nation, and his legacy will serve as an inspiration for current and future generations of service members," said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, in a statement on the matter. Regardless of the controversies sure to surround Fort Barfoot, the name is set to honor a true American hero that served our country for decades to great acclaim. Beyond the name change, National Guard units that were a part of the Confederacy are also being required to remove Civil War battle streamers from their guidons.
Fort Barfoot Naming Seeks Honor Rather Than DivisionAlthough Barfoot passed away at the age of 92 in 2012, his life made an undeniable impact on those around him and our country as a whole. The bravery, service, and ability that Barfoot displayed on and off the battlefield make the Colonel a perfect candidate for naming a military institution. After 81 years, the Virginia military base previously known as Fort Pickett will bare the name, Fort Barfoot. It’s a renaming fit for the heroes serving at the installation and a reminder to live and operate honorably through whatever we may be called to do. The name change will be official on March 24, 2023.
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