The name of a fort indicates a place of honor where soldiers trained, and many later died in battle.

Fort Bragg, North Carolina, holds special meaning to the survivors of the 82nd Airborne Division. It is hallowed ground. To change its name dishonors them, because a new name is meaningless.

I did my basic training there in Spring 1967, so I want to retain the names of our bases, irrespective for whom they were named. Changing names has nothing to do with other issues today.

I had a very hard time in basic training, only to be saved from being recycled and starting over. One of my drill sergeants was a giant of a man named SSG Crawford. He visited me in the hospital and said “Gray, I can help you get in shape so you can graduate with your company.”

With the individual encouragement he gave me, training in the red dirt, I graduated. Although he was not my friend, I considered him a mentor because I have not forgotten him.

It is worth noting that Crawford is Black, living proof that this country is not systematically racist.

How do the surviving family members feel about all who have gone before, the hundreds of thousands of heroes who defeated fascism and tyranny? The echo of our heroes would be “please don’t rewrite our history.”

Unless veterans speak up, Congress will gleefully cave to “political correctness” and accomplish this useless exercise. It’s no different from the desecration of our monuments, and has no place in the lexicon of our American history.

Dudley Gray, Rangeley Plantation

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