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Confederate Symbols: Relation to Federal Lands and Programs

CRS report via LC: Confederate Symbols: Relation to Federal Lands and Programs. Updated July 28, 2020. “Congress is considering the relationship of Confederate symbols to federal lands and programs. A number of federal agencies administer assets or fund activities in which references to the Civil War Confederacy, Confederate flags and artifacts, and commemorations of Confederate soldiers are present. In particular, the National Park Service (NPS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Defense(DOD)all manage multiple sites or programs involving Confederate symbols. NPS manages over 100units of the National Park System with resources related to Civil War history. Some of these units contain works commemorating Confederate soldiers or actions. NPS also administers national cemeteries that display the Confederate flag at certain times. Further, the agency is connected with some state and local Confederate memorials through its historic preservation assistance to non federal sites. NPS manages its Confederate-related assets in the context of its statutory mission to preserve historic and cultural resources unimpaired for future generations. NPS engages in interpretation and education about these symbols. Through its National Cemetery Administration, VA administers 143 national cemeteries, many of which contain the remains of Confederate soldiers. VA also provides grants to assist with the establishment of state veterans’ cemeteries. Confederate graves in VA cemeteries may have a special headstone that includes the Southern Cross of Honor, and may display the Confederate flag at certain times. In addition, 34 monuments and memorials located in national cemeteries explicitly honor Confederate soldiers or officials. Management of these memorials and monuments takes place in the context of VA’s mandate to maintain national cemeteries as “national shrines.”Within DOD, the Army administers 10 major installations named after Confederate military leaders. The Army also has jurisdiction over Arlington National Cemetery, which contains Section 16forConfederate graves and a monument to Confederate dead. More broadly, the military services have considered Confederate symbols in the context of policies on flag displays and policies for good order and discipline within units…”

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