As I was waiting for a friend this past week to get ready, I was scrolling through Facebook like millions of other Americans and stumbled across a photo stating, “The federal government has ‘tomahawk’ cruise missiles and ‘Apache, Blackhawk, Kiowa and Lakota,’ helicopters and used the code name ‘Geronimo’ in the attack that killed Osama bin Laden, and officially objects to the name of the Washington Redskins.”
Let us take that in for a minute.
A simple Google search would reveal that the Washington Redskins were originally the Boston Braves. In July 1933, the team moved to Fenway Park becoming the Boston Redskins, according to the Redskins website.
At the time, the team was owned by George Preston Marshall, the owner of a chain of laundromats in Washington D.C., who had little football experience, according to the Redskins website.
In 1961, the Redskins moved to a D.C. stadium that would ultimately be named Robert F. Kennedy stadium and would remain their home until 1996. This would start a string of unprecedented sold out games that continue today at Fed Ex Field, according to the website.
With over an 80 year history, the Redskins have seen their highs and lows, been dealt blow after blow, death and cancer, but returned to the field doing what they loved to do.
As I sat and read the history of this iconic American football team and asked co-workers their opinion on the name change dilemma, I couldn’t help but wonder about the history of the military aircrafts and why no one was fighting to change these “offensive names.”
The AH-64 Apache, the world’s premier attack helicopter, was designed to be an extremely tough survivor under combat. This aircraft made its first flight in 1975 and in 1976 Hughes Helicopter Inc., later McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems and is produced today by Boeing, received a full scale military development contract, according to the Boeing website.
The U.S. Army began training pilots on the new aircraft in 1984, and by April 1986 the first Apache unit was operational at Fort Hood, Texas.
A military attack helicopter with the same name as the Apache Indian tribe. This tribe has lived in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma and was official recognized by the U.S. government in 1900.
Robert McCartney, a Washington Post columnist, offered his opinion on the issue in a May 28, 2014, column saying “Here’s some reality for you Dan (Snyder, current owner of the Redskins). Since your patronizing comment, one-half the U.S. Senate has formally called on you to drop the name. It should have been a majority, but Virginia’s two senators shamefully refused to sign the letter. (Maryland’s two did the right thing)”
The Senate ordered the Apache helicopter to be used in conflicts in Panama in 1989 during Operation Just Cause, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to the U.S. Army.
Do you find it offensive that we are using the terms Apache, Blackhawk, Kiowa and Lakota as names of attack military helicopters and other military devices? How do Maryland senators feel about this?
The bottom line is the Washington Redskins were named 42 years before the federal government began production of the Apache helicopters. This same government that wants the name of a football team that is known and loved by so many changed.
It seems to me that the federal government that is pushing so hard to have the name changed, should take the first step and rename their list of “offensive” military aircrafts, missiles and operational code names.