(USA Today) The Confederate cause is deeply ingrained in American military history, making the country's current debate over whether to retire the "rebel flag" all the more pertinent to service members who view it as important to their heritage — important enough to display in their workplaces or even as tattoos.
After last week's racially motivated slaying of nine African Americans in a South Carolina church, the flag has become a target for those who consider it a symbol of hatred, a strident reminder of slavery and of the divisiveness that fueled America's Civil War.
Major U.S. retailers, including Walmart and Amazon, have said they'll no longer sell Confederate flag merchandise. States throughout the South are under pressure to remove it from government facilities, with Alabama doing exactly that Wednesday. And officials at South Carolina's historic military academy the Citadel voted to remove the Confederate Naval Jack from its campus chapel.
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The Defense Department, which enforces strict policies prohibiting hate speech, inappropriate tattoos and the display of offensive material, is making no such gestures, a spokesman told Military Times.