On Renaming US Army Bases after Unrecognized Veterans

Deborah Sampson, a soldier and veteran of the Revolutionary War (Public Domain)

In an Ideas piece in Time magazine, Craig Bruce Smith argues that US Army bases presently named for Confederate figures should be renamed after previously unrecognized veterans. This short piece tells the tales of Prince Hall and Deborah Sampson, heroes of the Revolutionary War and two suggestions that Smith floats as possible eponyms. The latter of the two bears a striking resemblance to Disney’s Mulan: Sampson disguised herself as a man, enlisted into military service, and fought in battle. Smith concludes by highlighting the benefit of renaming institutions after unrecognized Revolutionary War veterans:

“Today, we can remember that the founders are not simply the “Founding Fathers,” but all who contributed to the independence and creation of the U.S. In 1776, the nation was joined in a “common cause.” A politically divided America could use a reminder that the Declaration of Independence’s words matter and apply to all Americans.”

Smith, an assistant professor of military history at the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies, is the author of American Honor: The Creation of the Nation’s Ideals during the Revolutionary Era (2018), available from the University of North Carolina Press.