July 18 (UPI) — The Confederate battle flag was effectively banned from U.S. military property, a Pentagon memo released on Friday indicates.
The memo, obtained by UPI, does not specifically mention the flag, which was used by the Confederate States of America during the Civil War and later became symbolic, to some people, of white nationalism, Southern heritage or general anti-government dissent.
Distributed Friday by the Pentagon, the memo lists flags authorized by the Defense Department for display “that promote unity and esprit de corps.” While the U.S. flag, flags of states or territories, Senate-confirmed civilian flags and flags of allied nations are on the list, among others, the Confederate battle flag is absent.
“The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and dislike, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols,” the memo, signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, reads in part.
The Confederate battle flag regained popularity as a response to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
In June, NASCAR, the car racing organizing body with roots in the U.S. South, banned the flag, noting that the flag “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.”
The Pentagon memo comes after several elements of the U.S. military announced a ban on the flag’s presence. Marine Corps commandant David Berger directed the removal of Confederate paraphernalia from Marine Corps bases in February.
On June 9, a Navy statement said that an order would be prepared to prohibit the flag from all Navy public spaces. The same day, the Army said it would begin considering name changes for bases honoring Confederate military leaders.
On June 15, U.S. Forces Korea announced a ban on display of the flag at U.S. bases in South Korea. U.S. Forces Japan joined the ban in July.
“While I acknowledge some might view it as a symbol of regional pride, many others in our force see it as a painful reminder of hate, bigotry, treason, and devaluation of humanity,” Gen. Robert Abrams, U.S. Forces Korea commandant, wrote in a memo last month. “Regardless of perspective, one thing is clear: it has the power to inflame feelings of racial division. We cannot have that division among us.”