Mr. President, please sign  the National Defense Authorization Act [Opinion]

The President has the opportunity to approve the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  It contains $740 billion in defense spending for our six military branches along with some of the usual pork for other things having little to do with our defense.

The President has threatened a veto. He has issued just eight vetoes in his time in office. None of those eight vetoes could be overridden. It takes a two-thirds vote to overturn a presidential veto.

Despite a veto threat, both the Senate and House overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act. This was a bipartisan vote, something that happens much more than Americans would think given media coverage and partisan fighting.

The president has expressed at least two major concerns about the National Defense Authorization Act: one regarding internet reforms and another regarding the renaming  of military installations after members of the former Confederate States of America.

Yes, we need internet reforms and that’s a subject for another opinion piece in the days ahead.

It has always bothered me that we have a number of military installations currently named after Confederate Officers.

The Confederacy and its generals were defeated by the Union Army and surrendered unconditionally to General Grant at Appomattox.

Confederate states, lead by Tennessee,  rejoined the Union shortly after the war ended. America’s institutions of slavery were gone with the overwhelming defeat of the Confederate Army and Naval Forces.

Earlier during the war, slavery had been made illegal with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation earlier during the war.

Military personnel take a solemn oath to “Support and Defend.” Most of the General Officers of the Confederacy were Army Officers of the United States prior to succession. They betrayed their oath to the United States plain and simple.

When Fort Sumpter was bombarded and war declared by the  Confederate states, those Army Officers who had resigned from the U S Army and accepted commissions in the Confederate Army spearheaded those initial attacks and many more in a long and bloody war. Again, they had betrayed their oath to the United States.

To many, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the senior military adviser to the president,  these men were traitors, disloyal, and helped kill and wound many of the Union soldiers.  Yet, at some point in time U.S. military installations were named to honor these traders.

Many of these men had served only briefly in the U. S. Army and for just a few years in the Confederate Army if they survived the Civil War. Others may have served the U. S. Army with distinction early in their brief careers.

Another infamous General once served the Army with distinction on the field of battle — Benedict Arnold. Do we honor this legendary traitor with a military installation named in his honor? Nope!

Millions of our troops have trained at military installations named after Confederates. Many of those troops are of African American heritage others were Americans from all nationalities and all walks of life. All who serve our country as a volunteer or draftee are patriots.

Like many Americans I enjoy the study of history. As a former member of our military on Active Duty and in the National Guard, I am proud of the service rendered by both sides of our family. History teaches us so many valuable lessons. The Civil War taught generations of soldiers many leadership lessons and tactics.

However, it is time to remove one of the last vestiges of the Confederacy and remove the names of those officers who served it from our U S military installations.

This requires a federal solution as most military installations are under federal control. It is for the states  and their elected officials to determine the fate of Confederate officers and remembrances.

While I deplore our nation’s history of slavery and racism of any kind, it cannot be erased. Neither can the treason of these former Union Officers who became officers of the Confederacy.

Some will point out these officers served gallantly and with distinction on the field of battle. That may be true. As a student of military history Gettysburg taught many lessons to our military leaders. The Union also won that battle.

Many of the officers of the Confederacy fought with bravery on that battlefield. Nobody is denying that but they lost and they betrayed our nation to support no slavery.

So, they earned their place in military and global history, even though they were on the wrong side of it.

Global military history remembers field marshals and generals who lost battles and wars fought by the troops they sent into battle.

This is the place that the world has reserved for men of war. That’s where these names belong. Not on our military installations.

Is the National Defense Authorization Act the right vehicle for such a new law? I don’t know but it is a vehicle. The National Defense Authorization Act is the vehicle that will allow us to fund military construction, COVID response, research and development; pays for an ongoing war; helps us replace aging aircraft and equipment; grants our active, Guard, and Reserve troops a very modest 3% pay raise;  funds our military academies, military medical centers and hospitals; and on and on. Many civilians’  jobs , in the defense industry depend on the National Defense Authorization Act.

Passage of the National Defense Authorization Act was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate and House. It heads to the president’s desk for signature. A veto override is possible.

This president has taken immense pride in our military. That is justified as our troops are selfless in their sacrifice for our country. He has championed rebuilding our depleted equipment and helped rebuild our military. He has enjoyed immense popularity with the troops and veterans.

His signature on the National Defense Authorization Act helps keep America, Americans, and our Allies safe. His signature also ends honoring those who turned their back on fellow soldiers and our country.

A president’s legacy means a great deal. Some presidents’ support of the military has earned them a place in the hearts of my fellow veterans. For me, that President was Ronald Reagan. He was a champion for our military and had a doctrine of “Peace through Strength.”

President Trump has been hailed and hated for his entire term. Some 73 million Americans wanted a second term for him. Like it our not, a change of command comes January 20, 2021.

Signing the National Defense Authorization Act preserves important legislation that makes our country stronger and safer. Mr. President, please sign the bill and make your legacy one of support for our military unequaled by a one-term president.

Image Sources

  • President Trump: Shutterstock