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Robert E. Lee's Birthday

Robert E. Lee's Birthday 2019 and 2020

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.

Year Date Day Holiday States
2019 21 Jan Mon Robert E. Lee's Birthday AL, AR & MS
2020 20 Jan Mon Robert E. Lee's Birthday AL, AR & MS

In Virginia, Lee’s home state, he is remembered along with his “right hand man” Stonewall Jackson on the Friday before Martin Luther King Day, in “Lee-Jackson Day”.

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, president of a small Christian college in Lexington, 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.

In Florida, his actual birthday of 19 January is recognized, but few actually observe it there. In some other states, Lee is remembered as part of the reason for Confederate Heroes Day or Confederate Memorial Day.