Reversing course, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn signals openness to removing Confederate names from military bases

A day earlier, Cornyn had pushed back against the notion of changing base names, saying “I am for looking forward, not looking backward.”

Reversing course, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn signals openness to removing Confederate names from military bases
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, on Capitol Hill. (Source: Allison Shelley/The Texas Tribune)

WASHINGTON (The Texas Tribune) - After initially resisting the idea of changing Fort Hood’s name, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn indicated Friday afternoon that he is more open to changing the names of military bases named for Confederate leaders.

Fort Hood, a massive military installation in Central Texas, is named after Confederate military leader John Bell Hood.

“I was asked that question yesterday,” Cornyn said, a nod to comments he made Thursday to reporters in which he pushed back against the notion of changing base names. "And since that time I’ve learned actually that the Senate Armed Services Committee has voted in a bipartisan vote to issue a study, a commission to come back with recommendations to Congress. I think that’s the appropriate way to handle it.

“I realize these are contentious issues,” he continued. “What I don’t want us to do is to try to erase our history because, frankly, if you forget your history, you’re condemned to relive it.”

Pressed Thursday about changing Fort Hood's name, Cornyn said, "I am for looking forward, not looking backward."

Crowds across the nation have pulled down statues of Confederate leaders. This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposed removing 11 Confederate statues from the Capitol.

Cornyn made his latest remarks Friday in Dallas, where he met with Mayor Eric Johnson to discuss changes to policing in the wake of George Floyd’s killing while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Cornyn is up for reelection this fall, and the two candidates in July’s Democratic runoff criticized his initial comments on Thursday.

State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, questioned how a person of color would feel while serving in the military at one of those bases.

“Senator, please step into the 21st Century and finally denounce the pseudo-historical narrative of the Lost Cause,” he said in a statement.

The other contender, Air Force veteran M.J. Hegar stated, “Most of us know there’s a big difference between teaching about something from our history and celebrating it.”

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