Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with 34 of their colleagues, have introduced legislation requiring the Pentagon to remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America and anyone who voluntarily served it from all military bases and other assets of the Department of Defense. The bill would require the Pentagon to rename the assets within one year.
The senators emphasized that changing the names of American bases won’t erase the history of slavery and legacy of white supremacy in the country, but making these changes recognizes that the military should not be celebrating those who took up arms against the United States to preserve the enslavement of human beings.
“Having a military base, aircraft, ship, or asset named after you is a great honor,” said Merkley. “That honor should not go to anyone who committed treason against the United States with the goal of maintaining the horrific practice of slavery. It is way overdue and shouldn’t be controversial to take the names and symbols of those who took up arms against the United States military off of military property.”
“America’s proud military tradition should have no room in any form for honoring traitors who broke their oath to the United States so they could defend slavery,” Wyden said. “This legislation makes a much-needed fix to end the disgusting naming of bases and any other U.S. military asset for men who betrayed their country by waging war on the United States.”
Specifically, The Removing Confederate Names and Symbols from Our Military Act would:
• Require the Secretary of Defense to remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America from all assets of the Department of Defense. Grave markers will be exempted.
• Define the term ”asset” to include any base, installation, street, building, facility, aircraft, ship, plane, weapon, equipment, or any other property owned or controlled by the Department of Defense.
• Require the Secretary of Defense to submit a certification in writing to SASC and the House Armed Services Committee detailing that removal has been completed.
• Prohibit the future display of any name, symbol, display, monument or paraphernalia that honors or commemorates the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily.
Merkley and Wyden were joined in introducing The Removing Confederate Names and Symbols from Our Military Act by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO.), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Robert Casey (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tom Udall (D-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).