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Confederate Memorial Day

Confederate Memorial Day 2019 and 2020

Confederate Memorial Day, sometimes also called Confederate Heroes Day or Confederate Decoration Day is commemorated in various states of the southeastern United States.

Year Date Day Holiday States
2019 19 Jan Sat Confederate Heroes Day TX
22 Apr Mon Confederate Memorial Day AL & GA
29 Apr Mon Confederate Memorial Day MS
10 May Fri Confederate Memorial Day SC
2020 19 Jan Sun Confederate Heroes Day TX
27 Apr Mon Confederate Memorial Day AL, GA & MS
10 May Sun Confederate Memorial Day SC

Late April is the most common time when Confederate Memorial Day is observed.  This date was originally chosen because of its relation to the surrender of southern General Joseph Johnston to northern General William Sherman in North Carolina on April 26, 1865.

South Carolina observes the holiday on May 10 each year. They chose this date to commemorate the death of General Stonewall Jackson in 1863 as well as the 1865 capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The states call this date Confederate Memorial Day.

Yet another version of the holiday is celebrated on January 19 in Texas. Known as Confederate Heroes Day, the holiday was created in 1973 as a combined celebration of the birthdays of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. Re-enactments and parades are planned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy each year.

Events vary from state to state for these holidays. The University of Georgia Library puts the Confederate States Constitution on public display. In other locales, there are battle reenactments. And many lay down Confederate flags and wreaths on the graves of Confederate soldiers, especially of their own ancestors.

Observation of a Confederate Memorial or Heroes Day began the very next year after the end of the war, as the Ladies’ Memorial Association in Columbus, Georgia decided to find a way to honor the lives lost in service to the south. Leaders from that organisation sent letters to similar organisations in other states, suggesting that a “Decoration Day” should be formally observed.

A massive movement was already underway to move the bodies of the Confederate dead from mass burials to proper graves in their hometowns. The observation of Decoration Day was an opportunity for surviving veterans to march in their uniforms, for wreaths and flowers to be laid upon graves and for family members to hear eulogies and songs honoring their fallen loved ones.

There is controversy surrounding each of these holidays. The point of the holiday is to specially remember the Confederate soldiers who died in the American Civil War, fought between 1861 and 1865. There is also often a celebration of the “Old South,” which can be controversial since slavery was one of the main planks upholding that bygone way of life. In some other states, Confederates are simply remembered with all other US veterans on Memorial Day.