- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A major flag maker whose products have accompanied soldiers into battle and astronauts to the moon said Tuesday it will no longer manufacture the Confederate battle flag and other manufacturers may follow suit.

The Valley Forge Flag Co., based in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday joined companies including Wal-Mart, Amazon and eBay in banning the flag following the killings last week of nine black people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“When you have a sea change moment like you have with the tragedy in Charleston, we felt it was simply the right thing to do,” Valley Forge Vice President Reggie VandenBosch said. “We don’t want to do anything that causes pain or disunity for people.”

VandenBosch, who also heads the Flag Manufacturers Association of America, said other flag makers may stop making the Confederate flag.

Valley Forge’s decision came as a growing chorus of civil rights and political leaders called for removing the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina’s state capitol grounds and removing its image from the state flag of Mississippi.

The battle flag, with a star-filled blue cross on a red field, adorns bumper stickers, keychains and T-shirts. Some states, including North Carolina and South Carolina, offer the flag as an optional license plate icon.

South Carolina’s governor on Monday acknowledged that the flag’s use as a symbol of hatred by the white man accused of the church shooting massacre has made it too divisive to display in such a public space as the state capitol grounds.

“A hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come,” Gov. Nikki Haley said.

VandenBosch said Valley Forge had long been uncomfortable with making what the flag industry had viewed as a historical artifact. He said the company hadn’t received many orders for the red-white-and-blue flag before the ban.

Valley Forge is pulling references to the Confederate flag from its website and telling managers at its manufacturing plants, located in South Carolina and Alabama, to cancel pending orders.

“We’re moving as fast as technology allows us to move,” VandenBosch said. “We’re taking all the steps to get a freight train to stop as fast as you can.”

___

This story has been corrected to remove an incorrect description of the Confederate battle flag. The Stars and Bars refers to the first flag of the Confederate States of America, which had similarities to an early U.S. flag.


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