Though the Confederate army surrendered decades ago, sacrifices made by soldiers in the American Civil War are still commemorated by some of the southern states in the USA. Confederate memorial day is being celebrated on Monday in some states that have made proclamations to preserve Confederate history.
In Mississippi and Alabama, government offices will be closed on Monday as a way of recognizing Confederate Memorial Day. Georgia has been recognizing Confederate Memorial Day plainly as a state holiday with no further details on the state calendar about why it’s a holiday. This was a response to the controversial details about the motives of the Charleston Shooter when they became publicized.
The tragedy in Charleston has created a debate for citizens and government officials in the south. Citizens displeased with the motivations of the shooter wanted to censor Confederate symbolism as a means of ending the support of an ideology they deem as unsafe. Government officials reluctant to censor Confederate images do so in consideration of the honor, pride, and protection of history for citizens who glorify this aspect of the nation’s past. Some states, governors, and lawmakers have also chosen to defend the legacy of the Confederacy to prevent it from being expelled from modern american culture.
Despite the actions Georgia state took in the past to remove details from the state calendar, a lawmaker has made an attempt to revive the holiday by name in 2017. While the proposal did not go too far, it avoided the discussion of race and slavery during the Civil War. It focused instead on the heritage and sacrifices made during the Civil War. The lawmaker wanted to promote that Confederate articles recognized and respected the struggle individuals made for their rights, their freedoms, and enabling local governments to remain relevant as federal power expanded in the USA.
Phil Bryant, a governor in Mississippi, made a proclamation in 2016 to declare April as Confederate Heritage Month in the state. While there was backlash in the decision, he defended his actions, regarding his motives as a means to preserve history to allow future generations the opportunity to study and reflect on the complicated and unpleasant political atmosphere during the American Civil War.
Bryant continued in 2017 with another proclamation. It carried the same motivations, and declared April 24th as Confederate Memorial day to allow the state the opportunity to honor the citizens who served in the Confederacy.
The proclamation specifically calls for Americans of all ideologies to look at the history of the nation and learn from it, to appreciate its heritage, and use newfound knowledge to judge the opportunities we will have in the future.
While the governor is eager to celebrate this holiday, at least one protest has been planned as a means of showing discontent for this decision. The protest is organized by Mississippi Rising Coalition, and their President has made statements on Facebook about why they want to voice their concerns about Confederate Memorial Day.
Her message declares the government’s usage of tax funds to endorse confederate lives is troubling and disrespectful when over a third of the population in the state of Mississippi is represented by people of color. She finishes her statement by reminding Confederate supporters that it can be preserved and honored, but providing benefits to government workers by making it a holiday is unjustified and immoral when the historical legacy of the Confederacy promoted racial inequality.
Confederate ideologies will likely continue to be controversial and important to discuss, with positive and negative circumstances that are attributed to either allowing the government to censor Confederate symbolism, or enabling its preservation.