The U.S. Navy is preparing to ban the Confederate flag from its bases.
In a Tuesday statement, reported by The Washington Examiner, Cmdr. Nate Christensen, the spokesman for Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Mike Gilday indicated the service’s move to ban the controversial flag from its installations and ships.
“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.
The Navy decision would follow the example set by the U.S. Marine Corps, which announced plans in April to remove the flag and items bearing its image. On Friday, the Marine Corps fully implemented the flag ban order, which extends to depictions on posters, t-shirts, mugs and similar items on public spaces and work areas on Marine bases and offices and in Marine berthings on Navy ships.
“I am mindful that many people believe that flag to be a symbol of heritage or regional pride. But I am also mindful of the feelings of pain and rejection of those who inherited the cultural memory and present effects of the scourge of slavery in our country,” Marine Corps commandant Gen. David Berger said in his initial April announcement. “My intent is not to judge the specific meaning anyone ascribes to that symbol or declare someone’s personally held view to be incorrect. Rather, I am focused solely on building a uniquely capable warfighting team whose members come from all walks of life and must learn to operate side-by-side.”
There have been other calls to remove Confederate iconography from the U.S. military in recent months. In February a spokesman for the U.S. Army indicated the service was not planning to rename 10 of its bases, named after Confederate military leaders. Those bases include names like Fort Bragg, Fort Benning and Fort Hood, among others.
More recently Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper both indicated they were open to the idea of renaming the Army bases.
Following Christensen’s statement regarding the Navy decision to remove the Confederate flag, reporters for The Navy Times asked him whether the Navy would also consider renaming one of its ships, the USS Chancellorsville, which was commissioned in 1989 and named after the site of a Confederate victory during the Civil War. Christensen declined to comment on the question.
The USS Chancellorsville is believed to be the only Navy ship named in honor of the Confederacy.
The decisions by several military branches to address Confederate symbols and namesakes comes amid nationwide demonstrations following the death of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. Protests have been ongoing for more than two weeks since Floyd’s death and his death has sparked commentary about the history of race relations in the U.S.