Friday, January 12, 2007

Lee Jackson Day


Today is Lee Jackson Day. While some folks might have a problem with Virginia having a state holiday remembering two of Virginia’s most famous sons who fought for the Confederacy, the legacy of this date has been around for well over a hundred years.

The story of the day began in 1889 when Virginia decided to commemorate Robert E. Lee’s birthday, January 19. The person who passed this date into law was Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of Robert E. Lee and also governor of Virginia at the time. Like his uncle, Lee had served in the Confederate army as a general in the Army of Northern Virginia. Fitzhugh Lee would become one of many a string of Democrat governors in Virginia after Reconstruction.

In 1904, the decision was made to add Thomas Jonathon “Stonewall” Jackson to the day since his birthday was on January 21. This addition occurred under the watch of Andrew Jackson Montague.

In 1978, Virginia began to celebrate and remember Martin Luther King Jr. for his work in the Civil Rights movement. The problem that had occurred for Virginia, though, was when should the state remember the man. The decision was made to celebrate and remember Martin Luther King Jr. on New Year’s Day. The governor at the time was John Nichols Dalton.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan approved an act by Congress which set January 15 as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For Virginia, this date fell very close to Lee Jackson Day. As a result, it was decided to combine the two days together. This would occur during Chuck Robb’s tenure as governor. Needless to say, a number of lawmakers could not help but notice the contrast of having a single day celebrating both extremes of the spectrum when it came to southern history.

In 2000, Jim Gilmore separated the two holidays by moving Lee Jackson Day to the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

What is really interesting to note is that this is the first time in recent memory that I can think of that MLK Day actually falls on the date Congress said it was to fall on. As far back as I can remember, MLK Day was always on the third Monday of January. In looking up the history behind the day, MLK Day certainly was met with a great deal of opposition. Jesse Helms had argued that King was not worthy of having a national holiday named after him citing King’s opposition to the Vietnam War and possible Communist leanings. After Congress showed an overwhelming support for a national holiday for King, President Reagan signed it into law. It wouldn’t be until 1986 for the nation to take hold of it, but Virginia still was able to lead the nation by having the holiday on the books first.

As for Lee Jackson Day, this seems to be a day which has pretty much fallen into obscurity for the people of Virginia. Interestingly enough though, not everyone seems to have forgotten it. The DMV hasn’t as its offices are closed in observance of the day. In addition to this, I know for a fact that it is impossible for a person to get a parking ticket on Lee Jackson Day in Alexandria. It is actually a law on the city books. While I am sure there are a few other laws pertaining to Lee Jackson Day throughout the state, we should use this date as a way to remember all of Virginia’s sons and daughters who have made an impact on our state’s history.

For better of for worse, the legacy of the Civil War in Virginia can be seen throughout the majority of the state. However a person may view the South and the Confederacy, it is still impossible for anyone to deny the valor of those who stepped onto the battlefield and were willing to stare into the face of death and refuse to blink.

Ensuring that we remember this date is something that is important to Virginia. By acknowledging this aspect of American and Southern history, we as a people will never forget the lessons of the past when it comes to government, equality, courage, valor, honor, dignity, and respect. So on this day, let us remember these words:

“In spite of failures which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge, or of the present aspect of affairs, do I despair the future? The truth is this: the march of Providence is so slow, our desires so impatient, the work of progress is so immense, and our means of aiding it so feeble, the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”-Robert E. Lee

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is quite clear why the South lost the Civil War, with such a pathetic loser like Robert E. Lee still revered by a state largely populated by functional illiterate, lazy, hateful and malicious racists and bigots and hypocritical God-clutchers who still refer to the descendants of the "darkies" they once owned as their beasts of burden as NIGGERS, in white company. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID CRACKERS.

Anonymous said...

Haha quite interesting. The ignorance displayed in the previous comment is really very amusing.

Anonymous said...

The real idiots are those who can't distinguish between the history, contemporary economies and current educational conditions of different Southern states, who don't know enough African-American history to know that "Jim Crow" was a Northern construction, and much of the worst racism perpetrated in this country was in the North and West. If you weren't so lazy and bigoted yourself maybe you'd actually _read_ some history and current events instead of inventing them.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said Itis quite clear that you are the pathetic loser and hateful malicious racist and as for hypocritic God- cluchers look at Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton and let's not forget Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. just to name a few

Anonymous said...

Im proud to be a menber of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and very proud of my ancestors. I really get tired of hearing the true racist and bigots like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson just to name a few trying to make the confederate flag and everything about our heritage into a racist issue. Besides slavery don't exist in the United States any longer but in Africa it still does .Why don't they talk about that

Anonymous said...

November 7, 1989, on this date Virginia became the first state in America to elect a Black man as its governor. L. Douglas Wilder. Wow what a state full of hateful and malicious racists.

DM said...

White Anglo Saxon-Scotch-Irish American. History is a wonderful thing if we CHOOSE to learn from it. The racism that still exists in this country can be attributed to selfish, self-centered individuals that think someone owes them something, black, white or otherwise. They are affraid to work for what they need and refuse to take responsibility for their own education and actions towards others.
The pendulum of prejudices has swung from blacks to whites. In all governments blacks, not African Americans, very few were actually born in Africa, so their claim to fame as a true African American is simply a lie. Irish Americans who are white, Spanish Americans, a little darker then white, German Americans who are white & black, and African Americans who are white. We are all Americans. Most are God Fearing and all will be at some point in this worlds history. As a "Native American born in Washington D.C" Oh yea and let's not forget the True Native American who has experienced more racial prejudice that any Black American ever will and still this great US of A oppresses an entire culture and refuses to recognize the attrocities dished out on the original land owners of this great nation. Back to my point. Blacks in this country are given more opportunities because of the hard work of activists of equal rights, some of whom where not black at all. The problem is that the fair treatment of ALL people has been forgotten and blacks are treated with undue favoritism, especially in government organizations. There has been a growing trend of reverse discrimination in state and national government organizations. There was a time that the NAACP was needed and useful. Now with the fog of personal agendas has lost it's usefullness and value to Americans as a whole.
You may not agree with the political agenda of the period that surrounded the days of the civil war.. and it wasn't just about slavery.. by the way none of my ancesters had slaves. We all worked for a living, served our country (on both sides of the civil war) and continue to do so. So we have been dieing for Black and Whites and all others who live in America for centries. We make our lives what they are by the choices we make as individuals. Some still choose to hate. But you dont have too. Choose to be educated and learn from the past. Choose to be fair. Choose to rise above the bigotry, selfishness, self-centerdness. Choose to make a difference and fight for what you believe in that is GOOD. General Lee did. That you must respect him for. Bill Cosby - the comedian- Has great things to say about the Black American culture, look him up and do some research. Get educated.

Posted note - First Post- I laugh at the term NIGGER because I don't use it and never have (as a White American) I have however heard the term used frequently by Black American associates and peers towards each other... If you can't respect each other in your own race how can you respect others? Ghandi made the statement, "I like your Christ. I do not like your christians. There nothing like your Chirst." If we all would simply LIVE our religeous beliefs there would be no racism, hate, and all the other ills that plague our nation. There would be peace. It's up to you. Make a choice and be accounted.

Anonymous said...

Who is the first to show hate?
Who is the first to shout racist?
Who is the first to want revenge?
Who is the first to always want want want?
Look to the horizon to see what is coming.
Unless we all change.

Anonymous said...

As a 2nd and 3rd generation American (2nd by my mother and 3rd by my father) born and raised in Michigan who recently moved to Virginia, I don't comprehend the "southern" viewpoint of the Confederacy. I wasn't involved; my parents weren't involved; my grandparents and their parents weren't involved. To me, the Civil War occurred over 140 years ago, and I care as much about the politics of the Civil War as I do about the politics of the ancient Egyptians. It happened. Get over it. The Confederate States told the Union they were leaving and the Union said, "No." I find no need in glorifying anything about the Confederate States. By definition, they were un-American by seceding from the Union they came from. To me, the only thing the Confederacy represents to me is the racial tension and atrocities that occurred in that time to the present day. Why should we honor treasonous AWOL generals like Lee and Jackson? Would Germany ever have a "Rommel Day" to celebrate the Nazi general? No! Why? Because the world condemns what the Nazi's stood for. In analogy I ask, what did the Confederates stand for? They were uncompromising, opportunist slave owners who didn't want to give up their only means to cheap labor. Besides my disagreement of the idolization of the Confederate leaders, I restate my position that today, the Confederacy represents black oppression. Since I am a fairly "new" American, I don't share a family history of hatred and disbelief that the South lost. In fact, I don't even care. I believe that everyone must learn to forgive the crimes of our grandfathers. I had no part in world events 60 years ago. I cannot hold Germans today accountable for what happened in WWII. Therefore, I especially cannot hold accountable the South nor North for their involvement in the Civil War. I need to forgive the atrocities, but vow never to let them happen again!

Give up Lee-Jackson day and enter the 21st Century.

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective! I would actually tend to agree with you, on several points. As a temporary transplant to the state of VA, thanks to my husband's military service, I too have issues with the "southern" attitude. And, when my husband went to call the state Veteran's Administration Office today, and found it closed, due to Lee-Jackson Day... I had to look it up to find out what kind of BOGUS holiday it was!!! Turns out it's one ONLY Virginia celebrates!

However, on one point, I would have to disagree with you, as much as I hate to stick up for the south. If you take the time to learn your history, you will find that the Civil War was NOT just about slavery... in fact it was not really PRIMARILY about slavery. It was, in fact, about State's Right's. The south felt that State's Right's were sacred, above Federal Rights. The north felt that Federal Rights outweighed State's Rights. This disagreement was something that went back to the time when they were writing the Constitution, and they had not gotten that argument worked out to the satisfaction of the states involved at the time. Unfortunately, it came to a head, in the form of a Civil War, less than 90 years later. And truthfully, it is STILL not entirely worked out.

Personally, I very much admire Robert E. Lee. I just don't really know about ONE state making a holiday and closing official offices, (again, State's Rights... they think they should have them, the rest of us... not so much)

Anonymous said...

I found this educational, as I always felt embarrassed that we in Virginia mixed holidays celebrating individuals of such stark contrasts.

As for Racism and hatred, it is world wide and has been since the beginning of time.

Slavery in the South, however, became an institution based on race with little or no hope for freedom.

One should study the history of the civil war to see that Sherman fed, clothed and supplied his army from Southern Plantations while the confederate army starved and lacked those supplies necessary to wage war.

In the end it came down to entitlement, not states rights at all.

Southerners believe by the grace of god that they were better than their African American slaves and were entitled to profit from their labor. They even found scripture to support their beliefs.

That may be considered States rights but I think not.

Anonymous said...

Had the south won our nation would be much better off. The recent election statisticallt shows where the racisim ion the nation lies. God blees the great men such as Generals Lee and Jackson. The Lee family strove for equality long before the War of Northern agression ever began.

Anonymous said...

Had the south won our nation would be much better off. The recent election statistically shows where the racisim in the nation lies. God blees the great men such as Generals Lee and Jackson. The Lee family strove for equality long before the War of Northern agression ever began.

Anonymous said...

Both Lee and Jackson are worthy to have the state of Virginia endow them with a holiday. The soldiers who fought under them did so to protect their families from a government so out of step with the US Constitution that it sent it military and attacked civilians. We should remember that Abe Lincoln caused over 600,000 deaths to soldiers and likely over 100,000 civilian deaths during the war and afterwards. It is surprising that in today's politically correct world that we do not label Abe Lincoln as our worst president and more in line with modern war criminals.

Anonymous said...

Well, as a black american(mixed with a little hispanic) I have noticed the racial prejudices in our country still today. I believe that white's shouldn't feel guilty for the slavery in the past even though I understand how they would. Instead, I believe the best thing to do is to strive to understand people for who they are, not the color of their skin. Meaning, nonignorance. I also think fellow blacks should stop making excuses for their situations. We are all born with problems and issues in our life. We just have to use the hand we are dealt. Of course Obama's election hasn't gotten rid of all the racism in our country but it has shown a huge step for this nation. Remember, the civil rights movement was just some 40 years ago.

P.S: The civil war was fought over state's rights but slavery influenced that topic a lot. Without slavery being an issue, there might not have been as big of an issue over state's rights, and therefore no civil war. So whereas slavery is not the complete cause, it had a major influence over the war.

DM said...

Please remember that States Rights is only one tool to keep big government in check. It will be interesting in the next couple of years to see how much racism in this election either helps or hurts the US as a whole. The smoke screen will clear and the results will speak for themselves.

Walter Ring said...

I see that I am the only one here with guts enough to post my name. The very first post consists of the most ignorant rant I have ever read. Name calling, insults, racial slurs-damn, that is what I am constantly accused of. Well, so be it. Hurl all the insult your microscopic brain with its fraction of a digit IQ can think of. Don't hurt yourself thinking of any, though. White Southern Solidarity, hail the names Lee and Jackson!!! They will always be honored here!!!

Anonymous said...

What was proved by the civil war here was just maybe a States Right can not be something that all states are not in agreement. If our country believes in God ,they know all people are in God's image and should be treated as such. Some states thought it was ok to have slaves , but how they treated them was only their business. I think this was the real issue. maybe not just a thought