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Template:Disputed Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Decoration Day (Tennessee) and Confederate Heroes Day (Texas), is an official holiday and/or observance day in parts of the U.S. South as a day to honor those who died fighting for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Seven states officially observe Confederate Memorial Day: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
States and dates observed[edit | edit source]
|Alabama||Fourth Monday in May ||The surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston to Union General William Sherman on April 26, 1865.|
|Arkansas||Third Monday in January ||Robert E. Lee's birthday (state holiday combined with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day).|
|Florida||April 26 ||See remarks at Alabama.|
|Georgia||April 26 ||See remarks at Alabama.|
|Kentucky||June 3 ||Jefferson Davis's birthday.|
|Louisiana||June 3 ||Jefferson Davis's birthday.|
|Mississippi||Last Monday in April ||See remarks at Alabama.|
|North Carolina||May 10 ||The death of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in 1863 and the capture of Confederate president Jefferson Davis in 1865.|
|Pennsylvania||Second Saturday in May||Observed by the Pennsylvania Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.|
|South Carolina||May 10 ||See remarks at North Carolina.|
|Tennessee||June 3 ||Jefferson Davis's birthday.|
|Texas||January 19 ||In 1973, the Texas legislature combined the previously official state holidays of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis' birthdays into a single "Confederate Heroes Day" to honor all who had served the Southern Cause. In some years, this date may coincide with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. State offices are partially staffed in recognition of this day.|
|Texas||April 26 ||Confederate Memorial Day. Texas' official holiday is named Confederate Heroes Day and is celebrated on January 19. However, many local communities and Southern historical organizations within the state also observe a separate "Confederate Memorial Day" on April 26.|
|Virginia||Last Monday in May ||Same as Memorial Day.|
History of Confederate Memorial Day[edit | edit source]
"Taken from the US Dept. of Veteran Affairs"
Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
Local Observances Claim To Be First. Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, which were neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.
Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.
Folklore of Confederate Memorial Day[edit | edit source]
From the May, 1893 issue of "Confederate Veteran," the Origin of Memorial Day
It is a matter of history that Mrs. Chas. J. Williams, of Columbus, Ga., instituted the custom of decorating soldiers' graves with flowers, a custom which has been adopted throughout the United States. Mrs. Williams was the daughter of Maj. John Howard, of Milledgeville, Ga. She married Maj. C. J. Williams on his return from the Mexican War. As colonel of the First Georgia Regulars, of the Army in Virginia, he contracted disease, from which he died in 1862, and was buried in Columbus, Ga.
Mrs. Williams and her daughter visited his grave every day, and often comforted themselves by wreathing it with flowers. While the mother sat abstractly thinking of the loved and lost one, the little one would pluck the weeds from the unmarked soldiers' graves near her father's and cover them with flowers, calling them her soldiers' graves.
After a short time while the dear little girl was summoned by the angels to join her father. The sorely bereaved mother then took charge of these unknown graves for the child's sake, and as she cared for them thought of the thousands of patriot graves throughout the South, far away from home and kindred, and in this way the plan was suggested to her of setting apart one day in each year, that love might pay tribute to valor throughout the Southern States. In March, 1868, she addressed a communication to the Columbus Times, an extract of which I give:
"We beg the assistance of the press and the ladies throughout the South to aid us in the effort to set apart a certain day to be observed from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, and to be handed down through time as a religious custom of the South, to wreathe the graves of our martyred dead with flowers, and we propose the 26th day of April as the day."
She then wrote to the Soldiers' Aid Societies in every Southern State, and they readily responded and reorganized under the name of Memorial Associations. She lived long enough to see her plan adopted all over the South, and in 1868 throughout the United States. Mrs. Williams died April 15, 1874, and was buried with military honors. On each returning Memorial Day the Columbus military march around her grave, and each deposits a floral offering.
The Legislature of Georgia, in 1874, set apart the 26th day of April as a legal holiday in obedience to her request.