Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas observe a state-level holiday of Robert E. Lee’s Birthday on the third Monday in January, coinciding with Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.
|2020||20 Jan||Mon||Robert E. Lee's Birthday||AL, AR & MS|
|2021||18 Jan||Mon||Robert E. Lee's Birthday||AL, AR & MS|
General Lee’s command of Confederate forces during the Civil War makes him ever a controversial figure. In recent years the controversy has increased as more people in these states argue that observing MLK Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday on the same day is unacceptable since “both men worked at polar opposites for black people in America.”
Nevertheless, there are also many people in these states who honor Robert E. Lee for more than just his military successes. They also remember him as a believer in “states’ rights”, a hero of the Mexican-American War, a skilled army engineer, an excellent superintendent of West Point, adviser to Jefferson Davis, and a man who, in the interests of national healing and unity, told his soldiers to return home to “be good Americans“ after the surrender at Appomattox.
After an impressive record at West Point, Lee got military experience in the Mexican-American War in the 1840’s. When the South seceded, Lincoln tried to get Lee as his head commander to put down “the rebellion,” but Lee chose to fight for his home state instead.
After the war, Lee chose a peaceful role as a college president. His attitude was to fight the war hard, but once it was lost, to cease all uprising and civil unrest and be a loyal American citizen.
Robert E. Lee’s birthday is a day of parades, special wreath-laying ceremonies, and special speeches and special mentions in media sources of Lee, his life, and his accomplishments.