Naval Academy buildings named after Confederate sailors could be renamed under defense act

Two buildings at the Naval Academy, named after Confederate sailors, could get new names as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The National Defense Authorization Act, which has passed the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, has language in each of its copies that would require the renaming of military buildings connected to the Confederacy. This would include Buchanan House and Maury Hall.

The language included in the House version would also include military installations, streets and athletic fields, said Jaime Lennon, spokesperson for Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Baltimore County.

The bill does not specifically call out names dedicated to Confederate military members, but instead those who served in leadership roles, political or military, in an “armed rebellion” against the country, Lennon said in her email.

Ruppersberger previously called for the Naval Academy to rename Buchanan House and Maury Hall, which are both named for members of the Confederacy. His feelings have not changed, Lennon said.

The congressman is concerned with the effect of the building’s names on the morale of midshipmen and those who want to apply to the Naval Academy, Lennon said in the email.Paid Post  

“We should not honor and glorify historical figures who abandoned the union and fought to uphold slavery by naming buildings and streets after them,” she said.

The amendment to the House’s National Defense Authorization Act comes from Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., and Rep. Don Bacon, R-Nebraska. Both Brown and Ruppersbeger sit on the academy’s Board of Visitors.

If the amendment is included in the final version of the NDAA, it would require the secretary of defense to identify bases and infrastructure named and submit a report to Congress 60 days after the NDAA is enacted, according to a press release from Brown’s office.

The process for renaming infrastructure and buildings would then be up to the defense secretary to set.

The language in both the House and Senate would include the Naval Academy.

“Symbols and names honoring those who betrayed our country and fought for white supremacy, oppression and the institution of slavery runs contrary to [the Naval Academy’s] mission and our values,” Brown said in a statement.

The calls to rename the buildings are coming from inside the yard as well. The Naval Academy Faculty Senate passed a resolution calling for the academy to rename the buildings.

“We believe it is long past time to reject names that honor individuals who have waged war against the United States and whose commemoration perpetuates institutional injustices such as racism,” according to the resolution, obtained by The Capital. “Continuing to honor these individuals runs counter to our values and is detrimental to the culture of dignity and respect necessary to accomplish our mission.”

The resolution does not mention any particular building, although Buchanan House and Maury Hall are implied.

Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck is aware of the resolution, said spokesperson Cmdr. Alana Garas.

It would be “inappropriate” to comment on renaming buildings as it is part of the pending NDAA, Garas said in an email.

Heather Mongilio is the Report For America corps member with the Capital Gazette, where she covers military affairs. Mongilio previously reported at The Frederick News-Post and the Carroll County Times. She earned a master’s degree in science writing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree from American University.