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The U.S. Marine Corps has officially banned the Confederate battle flag from both public and work spaces on its military bases — including its display on vehicle bumper stickers, clothing, and coffee mugs.

“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 service branch said in a statement. “Our history as a nation, and events like the violence in Charlottesville in 2017, highlight the divisiveness the use of the Confederate battle flag has had on our society.”

The Marine Corps reasoned that the removal of the symbol would “support our core values, ensure unit cohesion and security, and preserve good order and discipline.”

Marine Corps commandant Gen. David Berger in April penned a memo explaining that the service branch is a “warfighting organization” and that “anything that divides us, anything that threatens team cohesion must be addressed head-on.”

Marine Corps photo

“I am mindful that many people believe that flag to be a symbol of heritage or regional pride,” Berger added. “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.”

The flag was carried by the Confederate Army during the Civil War in the 1860s. Its prevalent presence on military bases has sparked intense debate in recent years, and has prompted other social movements, including renaming military installations that bear the name of war criminals, such as Gen. George Pickett of the Confederate Army.

The Marine Corps regulation will not apply to places where the purpose of the Confederate flag is “not the main focus of the display,” including works of art, historical depictions, and for educational purposes. The regulation will also not include state flags that incorporate portions of the Confederate flag — such as the Mississippi state flag — and license plates that depict the flag.

Locations where the rule will apply include ships, aircraft, government vehicles, offices, storage rooms, break rooms, commissaries, and bathrooms.

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