Some National Guard Troops Have Refused to Remove Confederate Memorabilia

(—Army National Guard units were given a deadline of September 1, 2023, to remove Confederate battle streamers from their guidons and send them to be preserved at the U.S. Army Center of Military History As of the deadline, 107 of the 491 streamers had not been returned.

Streamers are awarded for participation in wars or specific campaigns and are displayed at the top of the unit flag. The Naming Commission, a committee created by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, recommended removing the streamers to comply with a law passed by Congress. The law ordered that all Confederate names on military properties be erased. The law effectively removes any trace of Confederate history from all military property.

Units in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia are listed as not yet complying with the order. Maryland was mistakenly added to the original list of non-compliances. Maryland officials claim the streamers were returned in March, well ahead of the deadline. South Carolina barely made the deadline, mailing the streamers just before September 1st. Alabama units returned their streamers a week late.

There are many potential reasons why some units have not returned their streamers. It is possible that units may no longer possess the historic memorabilia. The streamers may have been lost. Some units may have their own small museums where these pieces of Confederate history are displayed. Over time, soldiers may have taken the streamers home as collectibles and a tribute to family history. Some states may have sent in their streamers, but they have yet to be inventoried by Army officials. It is possible that some states never received the message that the artifacts were to be relinquished.

The 29th Infantry Division’s patch was excluded from the Naming Commission’s order. This patch is a symbol of units that fought on both sides of the Civil War merging into a single division after the war and for being among the first wave of the invasion of the beaches of Nazi-occupied France.

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