TOP News

US: Stripping military bases of Confederate names stirs passions

Stolen bases, baseball's lost art, playing pivotal role in 2021 MLB postseason

  Stolen bases, baseball's lost art, playing pivotal role in 2021 MLB postseason NFL Network's Tom Pelissero and NFL insider Ian Rapoport report on notable players on the trade block before the deadline.

BLACKSTONE, Va. (AP) — Civil War history casts a long shadow in Virginia, the birthplace of Confederate generals, scene of their surrender, and now a crossroad of controversy over renaming military bases that honor rebel leaders.

This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows a Confederate monument in front a county courthouse in Nottoway County, Va. Voters will cast ballots in a November referendum on whether to relocate this monument to Confederate soldiers that has stood in front of the county courthouse since 1893. It is a few miles from Fort Pickett. (AP Photo/Robert Burns) © Provided by Associated Press This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows a Confederate monument in front a county courthouse in Nottoway County, Va. Voters will cast ballots in a November referendum on whether to relocate this monument to Confederate soldiers that has stood in front of the county courthouse since 1893. It is a few miles from Fort Pickett. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)

In and around Blackstone, about 50 miles southwest of Richmond, that shadow can stir passions when talk turns to nearby Fort Pickett. Some are troubled by Congress requiring the Pickett name be dropped as part of a wider scrubbing of military base names that commemorate the Confederacy or honor officers who fought for it. In all, the names of at least nine Army bases in six states will be changed.

Over 40% of Afghan refugees at US bases are children, Pentagon says

  Over 40% of Afghan refugees at US bases are children, Pentagon says 44% of Afghan refugees housed temporarily at eight US military bases are children, according to a letter from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. © Barbara Davidson/Getty Images Afghan refugee girls watch a soccer match near where they are staying in the Village at the Ft. McCoy U.S. Army base on September 30, 2021 in Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin. 34% of the refugee population at the bases are adult men, and 22% are adult women, the letter which is dated October 8 states.

In this Oct. 20, 2021, photo Greg Eanes, a retired Air Force colonel and resident of Crewe, Va., poses for a photo at Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park in Rice, Va. Eanes said he sees removing the Pickett name at Fort Pickett as disrespecting the rebels and their descendants. “In my opinion, it is nothing less than cultural genocide, albeit with a velvet glove,” he says, standing beside a still-visible Confederate trench on a battlefield in an adjacent county. “The South has a unique history. Many of its people have ancestors and family members who were in the Confederate armies. It would be wrong, in my opinion, to dismiss — just arbitrarily dismiss — their concerns.”(AP Photo/Robert Burns) © Provided by Associated Press In this Oct. 20, 2021, photo Greg Eanes, a retired Air Force colonel and resident of Crewe, Va., poses for a photo at Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park in Rice, Va. Eanes said he sees removing the Pickett name at Fort Pickett as disrespecting the rebels and their descendants. “In my opinion, it is nothing less than cultural genocide, albeit with a velvet glove,” he says, standing beside a still-visible Confederate trench on a battlefield in an adjacent county. “The South has a unique history. Many of its people have ancestors and family members who were in the Confederate armies. It would be wrong, in my opinion, to dismiss — just arbitrarily dismiss — their concerns.”(AP Photo/Robert Burns)

Others here say it's high time to drop the names.

Thousands of Afghan evacuees leave US military bases for new homes

  Thousands of Afghan evacuees leave US military bases for new homes Thousands of Afghan refugees have left their temporary shelters at military installation bases to receive more permanent housing. © Provided by Washington Examiner With the help of various non-profit organizations, roughly 6,000 Afghan evacuees have left the eight military housing sites, with another 3,000 U.S. citizens, green card holders, and Afghans with close ties to the United States leaving on their own, according to multiple outlets.

“Change them!” says Nathaniel Miller, a Black member of the town council who was stationed at Pickett after he returned from Vietnam in 1973. “It should have happened a long time ago," he says, because the names are a reminder of slavery and a period in American history when Blacks had no voice.

This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows Fort Pickett in Nottoway County, Va., near Blackstone, Va. The push to rename Fort Pickett and other bases is part of a national reckoning with centuries of racial injustice, triggered most recently by the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. For years, the military defended the naming of bases after Confederate officers; as recently as 2015 the Army argued that the names did not honor the rebel cause but were a gesture of reconciliation with the South. (AP Photo/Robert Burns) © Provided by Associated Press This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows Fort Pickett in Nottoway County, Va., near Blackstone, Va. The push to rename Fort Pickett and other bases is part of a national reckoning with centuries of racial injustice, triggered most recently by the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. For years, the military defended the naming of bases after Confederate officers; as recently as 2015 the Army argued that the names did not honor the rebel cause but were a gesture of reconciliation with the South. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)

Fort Pickett’s namesake is Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, best remembered for a failed Confederate assault at Gettysburg that became known as Pickett’s Charge. He was a Virginia native and a West Point graduate who resigned his U.S. Army officer commission shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861.

Trump's Big Lie is the new Lost Cause — and it may poison the country for decades

  Trump's Big Lie is the new Lost Cause — and it may poison the country for decades Trump has embraced the narrative of the defeated South: Lie about everything, and double down on vicious bigotry Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump chant slogans and hold signs outside of the Philadelphia Convention Center as the counting of ballots continues in the state on November 06, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The push to rename Fort Pickett and other bases is part of a national reckoning with centuries of racial injustice, triggered most recently by the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. For years, the military defended the naming of bases after Confederate officers; as recently as 2015 the Army argued that the names did not honor the rebel cause but were a gesture of reconciliation with the South.

Congress easily agreed last year to compel the name changes to remove what are seen by many as emblems of human bondage and Black oppression.

Reflecting a shift in the military's thinking, Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has spoken forcefully about a legacy of Black pain reflected in Confederate names at Army bases where today at least 20% of soldiers are Black. He said those names can be reminders to Black soldiers that the rebel officers fought for an institution that may have enslaved their ancestors.

Milley told a House committee in June 2020 the Confederacy doesn't deserve to be commemorated in this way.

Only 1 bidder to run Georgia's Confederate-themed park

  Only 1 bidder to run Georgia's Confederate-themed park STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (AP) — The only bidder for management of Georgia's Confederate-themed, state-owned Stone Mountain Park is a new firm created by an official of the company that’s pulling out, the park's governing board said Monday. The Stone Mountain Memorial Association board voted Monday to choose Thrive Attractions Management LLC as the finalist to run the park near Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. That opens the way forThe Stone Mountain Memorial Association board voted Monday to choose Thrive Attractions Management LLC as the finalist to run the park near Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“It was an act of rebellion, it was an act of treason at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution," he said. “And those officers turned their back on their oath. Now, some have a different view of that. Some think it's heritage. Others think it's hate.”

This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows a Confederate monument in front a county courthouse in Nottoway County, Va. Voters will cast ballots in a November referendum on whether to relocate this monument to Confederate soldiers that has stood in front of the county courthouse since 1893. It is a few miles from Fort Pickett. (AP Photo/Robert Burns) © Provided by Associated Press This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows a Confederate monument in front a county courthouse in Nottoway County, Va. Voters will cast ballots in a November referendum on whether to relocate this monument to Confederate soldiers that has stood in front of the county courthouse since 1893. It is a few miles from Fort Pickett. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)

No one around Blackstone seems to know why the government picked the Pickett name in the first place. The 1942 dedication ceremony for what originally was called Camp Pickett, attended by the general's descendants, was held on July 3 to coincide with the 79th anniversary of his Gettysburg charge. An Associated Press account of the ceremony quoted Virginia Gov. Colgate Darden saying the story of Pickett’s Charge “will live forever as an epic of superb courage” that made him a Virginia “immortal.”

In this Oct. 20, 2021, photo Mayor of Blackstone, Va., Billy Coleburn, speaks during AP interview at his home in Blackstone, Va. Congress is requiring the Pickett name be dropped from Fort Pickett and other bases as part of a national reckoning with centuries of racial injustice, triggered most recently by the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “There was probably a time in my life when this would have gotten me riled up,” said Coleburn, a Blackstone native who publishes the local newspaper and is mayor of the town of about 3,500 residents. “The times change,” he added. (AP Photo/Robert Burns) © Provided by Associated Press In this Oct. 20, 2021, photo Mayor of Blackstone, Va., Billy Coleburn, speaks during AP interview at his home in Blackstone, Va. Congress is requiring the Pickett name be dropped from Fort Pickett and other bases as part of a national reckoning with centuries of racial injustice, triggered most recently by the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “There was probably a time in my life when this would have gotten me riled up,” said Coleburn, a Blackstone native who publishes the local newspaper and is mayor of the town of about 3,500 residents. “The times change,” he added. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)

Some folks, like Greg Eanes, an Air Force veteran who grew up in the nearby town of Crewe, see removing the Pickett name as disrespecting the rebels and their descendants.

Blue Jays deny Mets' request to interview Mark Shapiro

  Blue Jays deny Mets' request to interview Mark Shapiro Blue Jays ownership recently denied the Mets’ request to interview Toronto president/CEO Mark Shapiro as part of New York’s ongoing front office search.A Shapiro pursuit would’ve always been a longshot, not too dissimilar from New York’s earlier unsuccessful runs at A’s executive vice president Billy Beane and Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns. Shapiro has paired with general manager Ross Atkins to run baseball operations for the Jays since 2015, and he inked a five-year contract extension this January.


Video: WWII soldier's remains return to Chicago after 76 years (ABC 7 Chicago)

“In my opinion, it is nothing less than cultural genocide, albeit with a velvet glove,” Eanes says, standing beside a still-visible Confederate trench on a battlefield in an adjacent county. “The South has a unique history. Many of its people have ancestors and family members who were in the Confederate armies. It would be wrong, in my opinion, to dismiss — just arbitrarily dismiss — their concerns.”

This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows a street sign in Blackstone, Va., that likely will have to be replaced when Fort Pickett is renamed to remove the reference to Confederate Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett. The push to rename Fort Pickett and other bases is part of a national reckoning with centuries of racial injustice, triggered most recently by the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. For years, the military defended the naming of bases after Confederate officers; as recently as 2015 the Army argued that the names did not honor the rebel cause but were a gesture of reconciliation with the South. (AP Photo/Robert Burns) © Provided by Associated Press This Oct. 19, 2021, photo shows a street sign in Blackstone, Va., that likely will have to be replaced when Fort Pickett is renamed to remove the reference to Confederate Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett. The push to rename Fort Pickett and other bases is part of a national reckoning with centuries of racial injustice, triggered most recently by the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. For years, the military defended the naming of bases after Confederate officers; as recently as 2015 the Army argued that the names did not honor the rebel cause but were a gesture of reconciliation with the South. (AP Photo/Robert Burns)

Still, stripping Fort Pickett of its Confederate connection is hardly a hot topic around here.

“There was probably a time in my life when this would have gotten me riled up,” says Billy Coleburn, 52, a Blackstone native who publishes the local newspaper and is mayor of the town of about 3,500 residents.

“The times change,” he adds.

Local innkeepers Jim and Christine Hasbrouck applaud the removal of Confederate generals' names.

Why thousands of Afghans are still on US military bases

  Why thousands of Afghans are still on US military bases The US evacuated thousands from Afghanistan. Now, they are waiting for what comes next.He wore the outfit in Nimroz, after he delivered the last drips of intel to the Afghan Air Force on the Taliban’s position. He wore it as he drove toward Kabul on roads blasted by IEDs. He wore the outfit for the five days it took him to fight his way inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport. He wore it on his flight to Qatar, and then started to feel shy about the way he might smell on another crowded flight to Washington, DC. He wore it when he waited for hours in line for his first meal at Fort Pickett.

“We need to stop putting them on a pedestal,” says Jim.

Fort Pickett is used mainly by the Virginia National Guard. Situated in what is known as Southside Virginia, it is roughly halfway between Richmond, former capital of the Confederacy, and Appomattox, where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate forces in 1865.

This is a heavily Republican area that voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden by 57% to 42% last November and also favored Trump over Hillary Clinton four years earlier by a 55% to 42% margin. Reminders of the Civil War are not hard to find here; up the road among groves of pine, elm, maple and oak is Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park, scene of a series of battles on April 6, 1865, in which Confederate forces — including a unit commanded by Pickett — were defeated. Three days later, Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

Congress last year created a federal commission to recommend new names for at least nine Army bases named for Confederate officers, including three in Virginia. The others are in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. The law was passed over the objection of Trump, who argued that renaming disrespects those who trained at the bases.

Two active Navy ships also will be renamed. The USNS Maury, an oceanographic survey ship, was named for Matthew Fontaine Maury, a naval officer and scientist who resigned to join the Confederates. The cruiser USS Chancellorsville was named for the 1863 Confederate victory at Chancellorsville, Virginia.

Tom Wilkinson, a Blackstone resident and retired Army colonel who commanded Fort Pickett from 2008 to 2012, says he accepts the renaming decision but considers it a mistake.

"If we could look back in hindsight, I would say leave it alone,” Wilkinson says. “Because what’s next? Are you going to change the names of streets throughout the United States?”

Feds seek tougher sentences for veterans who stormed Capitol

  Feds seek tougher sentences for veterans who stormed Capitol During his 27 years in the U.S. Army, Leonard Gruppo joined the Special Forces, served in four war zones and led a team of combat medics in Iraq before retiring in 2013 as a lieutenant colonel. During his six minutes inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Gruppo joined a slew of other military veterans as a mob of pro-Trump rioters carried out an unparalleled assault on the bastion of American democracy. He's among dozens of veterans and active-service members charged in connection with the insurrection. (Justice Department via AP During his six minutes inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan.

In fact the post-George Floyd debate over racial injustice does extend beyond military base names. Pickett, for example, is a name that stirs controversy as far away as Washington state. In 2019 the Bellingham city council voted to remove the Pickett name from a bridge that troops under his command built during his establishment of a frontier post called Fort Bellingham in the 1850s.

A hotter topic here in Nottoway County is a November referendum on whether to relocate a Confederate war monument that has stood in front of the county courthouse since 1893.

Fort Pickett is among the last bases to be visited by members of the federal Naming Commission created by Congress. In their other visits, the commissioners were generally well received by communities, although some people “took the opportunity to vent a little,” according to Michelle Howard, a retired Navy admiral who heads the commission, which will visit Pickett soon.

Aside from his decision to take up arms against the federal government, Pickett's military record is the subject of conflicting interpretation by historians. But it's generally agreed that his performance was spotty at best.

After the decimation of his division at Gettysburg in 1863, Pickett commanded Confederate forces in North Carolina and Virginia. His defeat at Five Forks, about 20 miles east of Blackstone, in 1865 was especially humiliating because he had slipped away earlier to a fish bake, not expecting a Union attack. Days later he fled the battlefield at Sailor's Creek after his men were overwhelmed and forced to surrender.

Whatever the details of his legacy, people who grew up near Fort Pickett say the name change won't really matter.

“It will always be Pickett to me,” says Leigh Hart, who was born and raised in Blackstone. “It will be Pickett forever.”

Feds seek tougher sentences for veterans who stormed Capitol .
During his 27 years in the U.S. Army, Leonard Gruppo joined the Special Forces, served in four war zones and led a team of combat medics in Iraq before retiring in 2013 as a lieutenant colonel. During his six minutes inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Gruppo joined a slew of other military veterans as a mob of pro-Trump rioters carried out an unparalleled assault on the bastion of American democracy. He's among dozens of veterans and active-service members charged in connection with the insurrection. (Justice Department via AP During his six minutes inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan.

See also