On a pleasant October morning ceremony, when President Dwight Eisenhower would likely have taken advantage of the weather to play golf at Augusta National, instead all eyes were on a ceremony which marked the re-designation from Fort Gordon to Fort Eisenhower, named in his honor. Before his presidency, Eisenhower served as a 5-star general in the U.S. Army, serving in World War I and II.
Enlisted personnel and invitees gathered on Barton Field to mark the transition to the name selected by The Commission on the Naming of Items of the Department of Defense that Commemorate the Confederate States of America or Any Person Who Served Voluntarily with the Confederate States of America, more commonly referred to as the Naming Commission.
Camp Gordon, built in 1941, was named after Major General John Gordon of the Confederate army. He later served as a U.S. Senator and then governor of Georgia. The name was changed to Fort Gordon in 1956.
The location was particularly poignant. It was at Barton Field where General Eisenhower reviewed troops for the final time before his retirement. Fort Eisenhower commanding general MG Paul Stanton, shared with those gathered some of Eisenhower’s final comments.
“President Eisenhower stated to the soldiers, ‘There will be in my soul, a certain nostalgia as I see a uniform, whether it be a single soldier on the streets, or when I see a unit marching in a parade. God bless you and keep going’,” recalled Stanton.
Among those participating in the ceremony were Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of the former president. Susan is a consultant, author, and expert on international security, space policy, and energy. Also in attendance was Eisenhower’s other granddaughter, Mary Jean Eisenhower. She is a humanitarian and the chairman emeritus of People to People International.
A media roundtable was held prior to the ceremony with Susan Eisenhower, General Stanton, CSM Michael Starett and retired Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, who chaired the Naming Commission’s months of meetings.
In all, nine military installations have been renamed. The ceremony at Fort Eisenhower was the final one.
The commission received thousands of suggestions. They culled it down to 90 finalists, then gave each community that is home to a facility ten names from which to choose.
Eisenhower was not on the list of 10 names for Fort Gordon.
“When we had the last town hall with this community, when I say community, I mean, the civilians outside the base who support the base and the soldiers on the base. I have never seen a group so aligned. They said, ‘Look, you didn’t give us this name. We’re picking it. It’s on your list of 90. So, this is what we want.’ And it just made absolute sense to us,” Howard said.
She added, “We all have a responsibility to represent America in a way that makes our hometown people proud. That’s General Eisenhower. That’s the soldiers who serve on this base. That’s the community, the proud citizens who serve outside this base. This is a perfect way for us to end the commission work.”
Eisenhower had a deep fondness for Augusta. According to the Alliance for Fort Eisenhower, he visited here 45 times, five times before becoming president, 29 times while in office and 11 times after his term ended.
Susan Eisenhower said the family was deeply moved by the community’s request the post be renamed for her grandfather.
“He loved this place, and it offered a kind of respite, and an opportunity to let his brain rest,” she said. “I think, first of all, he’d be very humbled by the fact that the community has suggested his name. And I think he would be extremely pleased that a post like this, one that is so central to the future security of our country, is named in his honor.”
During the ceremony, the casing of the Fort Gordon garrison colors, the process of wrapping and covering the garrison flag, was followed by the uncasing of the new garrison colors designating Fort Eisenhower. At that moment, the name change was official.
Special recognition was given to one of the invited guests. Louis Graziano, a McDuffie County resident, recently celebrated his 100th birthday. Decades ago, as a young soldier serving in Europe in World War II, Graziano set up the telephone line for General Eisenhower and observed as Allied forces and Germany signed the articles of surrender. Today, Graziano’s niece is in the U.S. Navy, serving onboard the USS Eisenhower.
The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of the new signs naming the post Fort Eisenhower and the unveiling of a bust of the former president.