It’s been a little over a week since U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the big news: Fort Hood would be changing its name to Fort Cavazos by Jan. 1, 2024.
The name change wasn’t a total surprise. Fort Cavazos was previously recommended by the Naming Commission, which Congress created to suggest new names or removal of names and symbols that commemorate Confederate figures. Eight other military bases whose names are connected to Confederate figures are also getting new identities.
Fort Hood was named for Gen. John Bell Hood, a Confederate military officer who headed up the Texas Brigade.
The post’s new name pays homage to Gen. Richard Cavazos, the Army’s first four-star Hispanic general. who served as III Corps and Fort Hood commander from 1980 to 1982. He died in 2017.
Now that the news is official, the main question that remains is how the local community will respond to the name change.
It’s understandable that many local residents — especially those who served or held commands here — would be resentful of the switch.
Fort Hood, which was first established as Camp Hood during World War II, has been around for 80 years. During that time, it has deployed and welcomed home service members from conflicts in Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
And hundreds of Fort Hood’s soldiers sacrificed their lives in defense of our nation.
Thousands of babies were born at Fort Hood’s Darnall Army Community Hospital, which later evolved to Darnall Army Medical Center. And thousands of children were educated in Fort Hood schools.
The post is the largest military installation in the country, and the name Fort Hood has been synonymous with its established size and strength.
For a sizable percentage of veterans and civilians alike, the current name is fine, and there is no good reason to change it.
In an unofficial online poll taken from Oct. 9-15, the Herald asked whether the community will quickly accept Fort Hood’s name change to Fort Cavazos when it takes effect in 2024.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, 548 people had responded — and 78% chose the two “no” answers in the poll.
About 17% said the change would be difficult for veterans who served at Fort Hood.
More than 61% said the change is seen by some as unnecessary and an example of cancel culture.
Those numbers are telling, especially the second one. The question of removing elements of our nation’s historical past from our daily life has been one of strong contention for years, and it shows no signs of fading into the background.
Certainly, in the abstract, there may be nothing wrong with the name Fort Hood.
However, to many in and out of the military, the post’s Confederate ties serve as a painful reminder of the Confederacy’s legacy of slavery, subjugation and inequality. To continue to ignore this reality is a disservice to Black service members, their families, and the minority community at-large.
But more importantly, blindly ignoring the history behind the name serves to diminish the post and the surrounding community — and that is unacceptable.
As Secretary Austin said in his announcement last week, “The names of these installations and facilities should inspire all those who call them home, fully reflect the history and the values of the United States, and commemorate the best of the republic that we are all sworn to protect.”
Rather than criticize the pending name change as an example of politically correct overreach or cancel culture, let’s see it for what it really is.
The effort that led to the name change was not a conservative or liberal initiative. It was a bipartisan congressional initiative.
A large majority of Democrats and Republicans pushed it through as part of the National Defense Authorization Act at the tail end of 2020, ultimately overriding then-President Trump’s veto.
And rather than lamenting what the community is losing in the established name of Fort Hood, perhaps a better approach would be to celebrate the area’s new tradition.
In many ways, Richard Cavazos exemplified what is right about our nation.
He was born during the Great Depression on his family’s Texas ranch in South Texas. Right after high school, he enrolled in the ROTC program at what is now Texas Tech University. During the Korean War, he distinguished himself as he returned to a raging battlefield five times to retrieve his fellow wounded soldiers, according to the Naming Commission. For his actions, he earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest military honor for valor.
He subsequently returned to his original ROTC program, but as a professor of military science. He returned to the battlefield during the Vietnam War, frequently leading the front of his infantry battalion. His actions in Vietnam earned him another service cross.
In all, Cavazos earned two Distinguished Service Crosses, a Silver Star Medal, two Legion of Merit awards, five Bronze Star Medals for Valor, a Purple Heart Medal, a Combat Infantry Badge and a Parachutist Badge.
As a military leader, Cavazos wasn’t just respected by his peers and those under his command. He was revered.
Already, an elementary school in Nolanville bears his name.
Naming the Army’s largest post after such a dedicated, brave and principled leader won’t erase the legacy of Fort Hood; it will only enhance it.
Fort Hood and the Central Texas region have forged a strong bond over the past 80 years, and many Army commanders have commented on the tremendous level of support they experienced while serving at what is often called “The Great Place.”
Changing the post’s name to Cavazos won’t change that dynamic, nor should it.
Nor should renaming Fort Hood erase the decades of honorable service rendered by the brave men and women who have marched under its guidons.
But now is the time to embrace a new chapter in the history of our post and our community.
Certainly, there will be some big adjustments to make, from the name of the regional airport, to the names of several businesses and civic groups — even our weekly military publication, The Fort Hood Herald.
But we can and should acknowledge these changes, while honoring and celebrating the dedication, service and sacrifice that has marked our local Army post for the past 80 years.
Change can be difficult — especially when your longtime identity is at stake.
It may not be easy, but as a community, we can do this.
It’s just going to take a little time.
They can call it what they want ,.. but to Me I'll always call it FORT HOOD !!
Because that is what it is ! Just like I call Metroplex and NOT that Advent Health !
I came here when Metroplex Hospital was being built and to me it will always be
METROPLEX !! Same with FORT HOOD !!!!
Hood was a traitor. I agree with his name being stricken.
Dave, your opinion is ver well written, but I think most people are going to continue to think that changing the name of Hood is stupid....just another giant example of the liberal woke, cancel culture that Biden and his ilk have brought down on us across our country....If we are going to do this kind of stupidity, let's go ahead and do it completely....rename Austin, Houston, , Sam Houston State, Stephen F.Austin , on and on and on. Let's tear down the statues of Washington, Lincoln (who originally, in actuality wanted to send blacks back to Africa. ...If we are going to do this stupidity, let's do it right, completely..not just Confederate leaders... ..To me all this is and will be is a reminder of Biden and his gang of woke, ultra liberal individuals...
Why change a name that's been around for many years so to make people happy in the woke agenda. To give in to this idea leads us down a slippery slope. Then we can change everything to suit those liberals to erase history as we know it. Next they will figure out that very few minorities signed the constitution and cancel that document in order to make it equal to all parties. I don't believe in this idiotic behavior to suit equality. Are we going to change our country just to suit the needs of a few. Let's just open that can of worms and throw out history away. No borders or laws that might offend some group. They are already working on this and America as we know is doom. If someone doesn't like something then go find another country to live in instead of bringing yours here.
I had already given my opinion, but here it is again. I disagree with the name change. And if it does get changed in 2024, hope incoming president reverses the order to original name. Just like today's Biden reversal of many good policies that were in place before him.
Dave, do your research. Ft. Hood WAS the largest military installation in the country at one time but is no longer. It's neither the largest in population nor land area. I think it's 3rd on the list now....behind Bragg, JBLM, and Ft. Bliss (which leased another milliion+ acres in 2018, making it 4 times bigger than Hood in land area.)
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