Marines, Navy ban Confederate Battle Flag

Public display of Confederate Battle Flag prohibited, but historic display protected
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Confederate flag made out of flowers at the Confederate Statue in Jasper, Alabama. 2010.

Confederate flag made out of flowers at the Confederate Statue in Jasper, Alabama. 2010. Under the Marine's new prohibition on the Flag, this display would still be permitted. Other, less historically-based displays, however have been strictly curtailed by MARADIM 331/20. 

The square Army of Northern Virginiaundefinedbattle flag under General Robert E. Lee, designed by William Porcher Miles.

The square Army of Northern Virginiaundefinedbattle flag under General Robert E. Lee, designed by William Porcher Miles.

On June 5,2020, the US Marines issued MARADMIN 331/20, a document titled, “Removal Public Displays of the Confederate Battle Flag” that directed all Marine Corps Commanders “to identify, and remove the display of the Confederate Battle Flag or its depiction within work places, common-access areas, and public areas” on their installations. The MARADMIN indicated that the order applied to the “total force.”

The MARADMIN went on to define the term “Confederate Battle Flag” as that carried by Confederate armies during the Civil War, “most notably by the Army of Northern Virginia, but also carried by other Confederate States’ armies…[it] has various color schemes and configurations and is generally described as a flag with a red or blue field with two blue or red diagonal lines .. and white stars”

What is generally regarded today as the “Battle Flag” was designed in 1861 by William Porcher Miles, the chairman of the Flag and Seal Committee of the Confederate Provisional Congress. The committee proposed the design for the national flag, but the idea was rejected. Later, the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) under General Robert E. Lee adopted the design for its “battle flag.”

Today, a rectangular variant of the originally square ANV battle flag is the most common modern depiction. And while it never historically represented the Confederacy as a country nor was it ever officially recognized as one of its flags, today it is sometimes referred to as "the Confederate Flag." It is also known as the "rebel flag," "Dixie flag," "the Confederate battle flag," "Southern cross," and is often incorrectly referred to as the "Stars and Bars.”

The MARADMIN  went on to say that the order does not include “displays where the Confederate Battle Flag is depicted but no the main focus of the display, for example, works of art, educational, or historical displays depicting a Civil War battle where the Confederate battle flag is present, but not the main focus.”

The order also excludes state flags that incorporate the Confederate Battle Flag, state-issued license plates with a depiction of the Confederate Battle Flag, and Confederate soldiers’ grave sites. The order acknowledges that it is “impossible to specify every possible exception” and noted “commanders are expected to apply their best judgement informed by the spirit and intent…”of the MARADIM.

A rectangular variant is a common, modern depiction

A rectangular variant is a  common, modern depiction.

The order goes on to list the types of property where the Battle Flag is prohibited, most notable, “clothing and other apparel.” The directive does not apply to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, other Marine base museums, “or on any other installations which address the Civil War from a neutral, historical or educational perspective.

On June 9, 2020, the US Navy announced it would prohibit the Confederate battle flag from all its military installations, as well. Navy Cmdr. Nate Christensen said in a statement, “The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday, has directed his staff to begin crafting an order that would prohibit the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces and work areas aboard Navy installations, ships, aircraft and submarines.” Christensen said Gilday’s order “is meant to ensure unit cohesion, preserve good order and discipline, and uphold the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment.”

Read the Ohio Valley Military Society's stance on culturally sensitive symbols at the Show of Shows, MAX Show, and other OVMS events:  OVMS SHOW POLICY

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