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Pentagon bans all Confederate flags from US military installations, housing and more

Confederate Flag in Biloxi, Miss. (edward stojakovic/Flickr)
July 17, 2020

The Pentagon has officially banned all displays and depictions of the Confederate flag on U.S. military installations and other U.S. military property on Friday.

In a carefully worded memo dated July 16, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper outlined a specific list of flags authorized for display – which excluded the Confederate flag – and noted that any unauthorized flags are now prohibited for display.

“Flags are powerful symbols, particularly in the military community for whom flags embody common mission, common histories, and the special, timeless bond of warriors,” Esper wrote in the memo. “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.”

Other than the American flag, service members and DOD employees are authorized to display only flags of U.S. states and territories, military service branches, general officer flags, civilian flags appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the POW/MIA flag, flags for U.S. allied or partner nations, flags of global organizations with U.S. membership such as NATO, Senior Executive Service (SES) and Military Department-specific SES flags, and flags or guidons associated with ceremonies, commands, units, and branches.

“The public display or depiction of unauthorized flags in museum exhibits, state-issued license plates, grave sites, memorial markers, monuments, educational displays, historical displays, or works of art, where the nature of the display or depiction cannot reasonably be viewed as endorsement of the flag by the Department of Defense, is not prohibited,” the memo states.

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The new rule affects public displays of service members and DOD employees in workplaces and public areas on military installations and facilities, including barracks and common areas, and in the plain view of any “government-operated or public-private venture housing.”

“What has always united us remains clear – our common mission, our oath to support and defend the Constitution, and our American flag. With this change in policy, we will further improve the morale, cohesion, and readiness of the force in defense of our great Nation,” Esper wrote.