- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - Most souvenirs that feature the Confederate battle flag have been removed from the bookstore at Vicksburg National Military Park, home to a Civil War battlefield.

The National Park Service issued a directive Thursday halting sales of some items featuring the Confederate flag in parks across the nation, including in Vicksburg.

Park ranger Ray Hamel told The Vicksburg Post (http://bit.ly/1eLQkp0 ) that store employees removed flags, coasters, mugs, clothing and several other items featuring the battle emblem. The Mississippi state flag, which includes the Confederate X, remained for sale.

Books and DVDs featuring Confederate flags on their covers remained on the shelves. About half the books on sale in the store feature some type of Confederate flag on the cover.

Other items featuring the First National Confederate Flag and Bonnie Blue Flag were also pulled because the Park Service directive used the terms battle flag and Confederate flag ambiguously, Hamel said.

“We’re going to have to wait and get some guidance,” Hamel said. “I’m sure we’re not the only park wondering about this.”

The Confederate battle flag was one of the top selling items at the park.

The National Park Service operates more than 70 parks and historical sites directly related to the history of the Civil War. Soldiers from the Confederacy flew the battle flag at many of those sites, including Vicksburg.

The design featuring a St. Andrew’s Cross and 13 stars was incorporated into the second and third national flags of the Confederacy.

The flag has recently stirred controversy after the shooting death of nine church members at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Confederate flags and gifts remain for sale at Vicksburg’s Old Court House Museum and the Old Depot Museum, which are not affiliated with the military park. Interest from customers has increased since debate over the Civil War-era flag began, directors of both museums said.

“There has been a run on them,” Old Court House Museum curator Bubba Bolm said. “People from all over the U.S. have been trying to buy these flags.”

Bolm said he placed an order this week for 150 battle flags. Old Depot Museum director Lamar Roberts said he also ordered battle flags this week after an increase in sales.

“That’s what a lot of people come here for,” Roberts said. “We plan to keep selling them as long as we can get them.”

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Information from: The Vicksburg Post, http://www.vicksburgpost.com

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