Army National Guard units with a Civil War-era lineage were ordered to relinquish any Confederate battle streamers from their guidons, but more than 100 of the streamers have yet to be recovered a week after the deadline.
At least 48 mostly southern National Guard units were directed in March to strip their guidons of rebel streamers to be preserved at the U.S. Army Center of Military History. Streamers hang on the top of unit flags, which are often held by a soldier during a formation, and are awarded for participating in wars or specific campaigns ranging from the Colonial era to the Global War on Terrorism.
The Army had collected 384 of 491 streamers as of the Sept. 1 deadline, according to a spokesperson with the Army’s Human Resources Command. That was part of an effort mandated by Congress to strip tributes to the Confederacy from military property, including the names of major bases. States that sent all streamers were Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina and Texas. But units in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, South Carolina and West Virginia have yet to surrender them.
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It was unclear Friday where the 107 missing streamers are.
In some cases, individual units have their own small museums in armories where the streamers could be on display. Also, streamers may have been lost over time or units simply did not get the message they were supposed to mail them to the Army’s Human Resources Command. Or soldiers may have acquired some for personal memorabilia collections.
The move to remove the streamers was part of a large set of recommendations from the Naming Commission, a committee created by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to carry out a law passed by Congress calling for Confederate names to be scrubbed from military property. That included the largest Army installations in the country and ships, as well as smaller pieces of property such as monuments and flags.
Most recently, Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia was redesignated ast Fort Walker, honoring a union surgeon and the only woman to earn the Medal of Honor for treating wounded soldiers on the front lines of the Civil War.
Though the Naming Commission nixed most Confederate references, the National Guard will keep its famed 29th Infantry Division’s patch, a yin-yang of blue and gray, to symbolize units who fought on both sides of the Civil War being reformed into a single division after the conflict.
The patch has since become synonymous with the unit being among the first wave of the Allied invasion of the beaches of Nazi-occupied France.
— Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.
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