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CNO says no more Confederate battle flags in public spaces and work areas

The Navy’s top officer has directed his staff to draft an order that will ban the Confederate battle flag from all public spaces and work areas on Navy bases, ships, subs and aircraft.

“The order is meant to ensure unit cohesion, preserve good order and discipline, and uphold the Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment,” a spokesman for Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in an email Tuesday.

The spokesman, Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, declined to comment as to whether the sea service planned to change the name of the warship Chancellorsville, commissioned in 1989 and named after a Confederate victory during the Civil War.

It is believed to be the sole Navy ship on active duty named in honor of the Confederacy.

An image on the command’s official website shows an image featuring several renderings of the Confederate flag.

play_circle_filled The guided-missile cruiser Chancellorsville is named after the greatest Civil War victory of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. It is one of at least five Navy ships named after icons of the Civil War South (MC1 Peter Burghart/Navy).
Meet the Navy ships named in honor of the Confederacy

The Navy has a history of naming ships after icons of the Confederacy. Such honorifics have turned contentious, most recently in the fatal protests last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Gilday’s move comes as the U.S. military and American society in general again reassesses that flag’s place in history, as well as bases that were named after Confederate leaders, in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody last month.

Last week, the U.S. Marine Corps announced that it was officially barring symbols depicting the Confederate battle flag from public spaces on Marine Corps installations.

“The Confederate battle flag has all too often been co-opted by violent extremist and racist groups whose divisive beliefs have no place in our Corps,” the Marine Corps said in a social media post Friday.

"This presents a threat to our core values, unit cohesion, security, and good order and discipline,” the post continued. “This must be addressed."

In a piece for The Atlantic this week, retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus called for a removal of base names that pay homage to Confederate “traitors like Benning and Bragg.”

Forts Benning and Bragg are among 10 Army installations named after Confederate officers who fought a losing battle against the Union over slavery during the Civil War.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday they are open to the possibility of renaming the service’s 10 installations currently named after Confederate leaders, a spokesperson said Monday.

“These bases are, after all, federal installations, home to soldiers who swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Petraeus wrote. “The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention. Now, belatedly, is the moment for us to pay such attention.”

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