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Confederate Flags Banned on Military Bases in Pentagon Policy

Fort Bragg, North Carolina, USA. Enlisted personnel barracks for the 1st Brigade. Coordinates: 35°8′19.81″N 79°1′53.61″W Date: 2001 Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library

“I had a staff sergeant when I was a young officer who actually told me that at Fort Bragg. He said he went to work every day on a base that represented a guy who had enslaved his grandparents.”

Since the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, symbols of the Confederacy have been called into question. Statues of Confederate leaders have been toppled and battle flags have been removed from government premises. The Pentagon is the latest organization to take aim at the Confederacy and as of Thursday, Confederate flags are banned on military bases, CNBC reported. 

The policy, which Esper publicly released Friday, contains a list of approved flags that may be flown at military facilities. The list includes the POW/MIA flag, state and territorial flags, flags of allied nations, and international organization flags such as the UN and NATO. The Confederate battle flag, which was recently banned at NASCAR events, is missing from the list, making Confederate flags banned on military bases.

Military offices, kitchens, conference rooms, barracks, schools, and essentially any other location within public view are subject to the new guidelines. The Confederate flag is, however, still permitted on state-issued license plates, museums, grave sites, and art, according to the policy.

Part of A Longer Review

“The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols,” Esper wrote, explaining the updated guidelines. “With this change in policy, we will further improve the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the force in defense of our great nation,” the statement added.

The policy is the result of a review process that Esper told the US House Armed Services Committee was in progress on July 9. The committee also asked Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley about military bases and ships that are named after Confederate figures. Milley offered an anecdote on the matter.

“I had a staff sergeant when I was a young officer who actually told me that at Fort Bragg. He said he went to work every day on a base that represented a guy who had enslaved his grandparents,” Milley told the committee. “The American Civil War was fought, and it was an act of rebellion and an act of treason at the time against the Union, against the stars and stripes and against the U.S. Constitution.”

White House Resistance

Although Esper and Milley prefer to disassociate the US military from Confederate symbols, doing so puts the Pentagon against President Donald Trump.

“It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” Trump tweeted on July 10.

He added “my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.” 

Trump and his spokespeople have yet to comment on Esper’s new policy that by which Confederate flags are banned on military bases. An official noted that the “White is aware of new policy,” CNN reported.

‘People Love It’

In a July 15 interview with CBS News Monday, Trump called the Confederate battle flag an exercise in “freedom of speech.”

“People love it, and I know people that like the Confederate flag and they’re not thinking of slavery, I look at NASCAR you had the flags all over the place.”

The president previously offered his thoughts when NASCAR decided to ban the flag following a false alarm threat on NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.

“Has [Bubba Wallace] apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX?” Trump tweeted. “That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!”

Marine Corps Led The Way

Esper’s directive banning Confederate flags on military bases follows a Marine Corps prohibition of the flag in April by Gen. David Berger, commandant. The Navy said was preparing a similar order.

“It became pretty clear that some symbols were being hijacked by organizations and used a very bad, negative way…the Confederate battle flag was part of that,” Berger said. “ We have a flag—it’s the American flag. We have the Marine Corps colors.”

Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis is Managing Editor for The Osage County Herald-Chronicle in Kansas and also covers International news for Inside Over, a Milan-based global affairs publication. He graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Outside of writing, he enjoys photography and one day hopes to return to video production. Learn more about him at his website danieldavis.la.

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