As part of an effort to strip commemorative nods to the Confederacy from the military, an independent naming commission has determined that the 29th Infantry Division should keep its unit patch, but that the language used to describe it in the Army’s heraldic listings should get an update, according to a Monday release.
The insignia, a blue and gray take on the yin-yang, has been around since World War I, when the division activated with troops from as far north as Maryland and down to South Carolina. The blue and gray are meant to symbolize the joining of formerly Union and Confederate states.
“The description language should be modified to reflect the rich history of the 29th, with focus on the unification of American citizens through service in the 29th,” Retired Adm. Michelle Howard, the commission’s chair, wrote in a July letter to members of the House and Senate armed services committees.
Howard added, “the Community of the 29th ID indicates that they view the symbol as a unifying symbol for America and is imbued with the sacrifices and service of past 29th ID members.”
Today, the unit is a National Guard command based at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with soldiers from Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The commission also recommended that the service secretaries look across their heraldic insignias for other nods to the Confederacy and either update or replace them.
“For heraldry or symbols that unmistakably honor the Confederacy, or honor individuals who voluntarily served with the Confederacy through image or motto, the Commission recommends that Confederate symbols, images, and mottos be removed, or the items be redesigned in their entirety,” the letter reads. “For heraldry or symbols, where the determination concerning commemoration rests primarily in the descriptive text, the Commission recommends the text be modified to remove references to the Confederacy or individuals who served voluntarily with the Confederacy.”
On top of that, the commission is recommending the Army do away with an exception, dating back to 1949, that has allowed units to commemorate Confederate battle wins on their unit flags.
“Forty-eight Army units have at least one Confederate campaign streamer; a total of 457 Confederate streamers are presently authorized,” Howard wrote. Based on the commission’s recommendation, “those 457 Confederate battle streamers would no longer be authorized.”
The recommendations are the latest in a long list of proposed changes from the commission, which started its work in early 2021.
To date, they have recommended renaming nine Army posts, and identified 757 “items” total, which include the names of ships, streets, buildings, awards and more.
The commission’s final report is due to Congress on Oct. 1.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.