Most passionately believe their ancestors’ names should, as one of the Senate bills stipulates, be excised from all military monuments, buildings, streets, ships, planes or paraphernalia. A minority of them are equally fervent that their ancestors deserve to be honored. And some who hold these diametrically opposing views are in the same family.
Some of the kin of the notorious Nathan Bedford Forrest, who has a street named in his honor at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, are not on speaking terms over the issue. Most descendants of Leonidas Polk want the base named for him changed, but not all. The descendants of General A.P. Hill insist that renaming the base bearing his name would be an unjust humiliation. The relatives of General John Bell Hood are torn about how to strike the proper balance between righting the wrongs of history and still acknowledging their ancestor’s honorable postwar accomplishments…
“I think white people should follow the lead of Black activists and people of color more broadly fighting for equality and rights, and support this struggle in any way we can,” said Mimi Kirk, the great-great-great granddaughter of General John Brown Gordon, who wants Georgia’s Fort Gordon renamed so it is not honoring a leading white supremacist.
Yet for others such a move would be an affront. “No. Absolutely not,” said Tim Hill, 53, when asked if the post in Virginia named for his direct descendant, A.P. Hill, should be changed. “At the time, he fought for what he believed in. From what I’ve read, the fight for him wasn’t about slavery, it was just about, he referred to [it] as ‘Northern aggression.’”