WASHINGTON — More than 150 years after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee remains a divisive figure to many people.
Now, the Virginia Army base that bears the Confederate general's name is about to get re-named.
Under the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress ordered that nine bases currently named after Confederate figures -- including Fort Lee and two other installations in Virginia -- must be renamed.
Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Virginia, 4th District), whose district includes Fort Lee, said it's about time.
"Having to have a place named after someone who tried to overthrow the Republic is just not right," he said.
McEachin is urging that Fort Lee be renamed to honor retired Lieutenant General Arthur Gregg.
"I'm thrilled to put forth the name of Arthur J. Gregg," he said. "At the time of his retirement [in 1981], he was the highest-ranking African American officer in the military."
McEachin has gotten more than 20 members of the Congressional Black Caucus to co-write a letter to the Pentagon panel that is in charge of assigning the new military installation names.
In their letter, they call Gregg an "outstanding role model for current and future service members."
McEachin said Gregg's name will serve as an inspiration to future Black soldiers.
"Sadly, one of the reasons it's inspiring is because it's rare," he said. "Hopefully, over time, this will not be rare."
The Defense Department Naming Commission has until October 1, 2022, to present its recommendations to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The panel has received more than 27,000 recommendations for new names for the nine bases.
The commission is also considering whether it should rename Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County. Although not named for a Confederate figure, Fort Belvoir is named after a slave plantation.