The Confederate Memorial Day

by M-Gillies

The Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery symbolizes the reconciliation between the North and South.

“The Confederate Soldiers were our kinfolk and our heroes. We testify to the country our enduring fidelity to their memory. We commemorate their valor and devotion. There were some things that were not surrendered at Appomattox. We did not surrender our rights and history; nor was it one of the conditions of surrender that unfriendly lips should be suffered to tell the story of that war or that unfriendly hands should write the epitaphs of the Confederate dead. We have the right to teach out children the true history of the war, the causes that led to it and the principles involved.” Tennessee Senator Edward Ward Carmack (circa.1903)

As it has often been said, the winner of wars is the one who writes the history of those conflicts and while the War Between the States has been seen by scholars and historians as a lost cause, the war between States was the first in which Americans found themselves pitted against one another, sometimes with families split down the middle as one brother served the other side.

It was during a time of complex political, social and economic turmoil that provoked the Southern States into secession to form the Confederate States of America. However, it wasn’t until Lincoln called for troops to suppress the rebellion that the War Between States turned into a violent Civil War, resulting in 95,000 Confederate soldiers dying in battle and an additional 165,000 dying of disease.

While today, the lives of both Union and Confederate soldiers are commemorated as part of Memorial Day throughout the United States, the South has long held a separate tradition for their Memorial Day. With varying dates from state to state, the day designated to remembering the soldiers who died during the Civil War is celebrated in nine Southern states, where some recognize the day of remembrance and mourning as that of Robert E Lee’s birthday on January 19, while others celebrate it on June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate President.

In Georgia, April 26, the day in 1865 that Confederate General Joseph Johnston surrendered to Union General William Sherman, has been officially recognizing the day since 1874, with further proclamations signed by Southern Governors commemorating April as Confederate History and Heritage Month since 1995.

Similarly, the States of Alabama, Florida and Mississippi have adopted April 26, as their day of celebrating the Confederate Memorial Day. Meanwhile, States such as North Carolina and South Carolina, mark their Confederate Memorial Day on May 10, to commemorate the death of Thomas Stonewall Jackson in 1863 and the capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1865.

In the States of Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee, Confederate Memorial Day is celebrated on June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, while, Texas holds their Memorial Day on January 19, as Confederate Heroes Day. In 1973, Texas legislature combined the previously official state holiday of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis birthdays into a single Confederate Heroes Day holiday to honor all who had served the Southern cause.

Even though the efforts of the Confederacy was deemed a lost cause, a commemorative monument still resides in the Arlington National Cemetery, dedicated to the Confederate dead. The Confederate Monument was unveiled before a large crowd of northerners and southerners on June 4, 1914, the 106th Anniversary of Jefferson Davis’ birth, by President Woodrow Wilson. The monument is marked with an inscription that reads, “Not for fame or reward; Not for place or rank; Not lured by ambition; Or Goaded by necessity; But in Simple Obedience to Duty as they understood it; These men suffered all, Sacrificed all, Dared all – and Died.”

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Confederate Memorial Day in United States

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