The Civil War ended over 150 years ago. The Confederacy lost fighting in support of slavery, one of the most heinous crimes ever perpetrated by humanity.
The south rose, it lost, and America is unquestionably a better place because of it.
Vestiges of the war still remain in the south in the form of monuments, holidays, and state buildings named after notable Confederates. But over the past few years, lawmakers are beginning to take strides to remove the Confederacy from public view.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 114 Confederate statues have been removed from public view since 2015. "They end up in warehouses and people don't really know what to do with them," Heidi Beirich, leader of the intelligence project for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the New York Times.
There's a growing movement to relegate the Confederacy to the dustbin of history, but the country is still divided on the issue. A 2017 poll found that 71% of Democrats support the removal of Confederate monuments while 87% of Republicans disagree.
It's bewildering that those who profess themselves to be the most patriotic of Americans support honoring a war that nearly destroyed the nation.
This debate came to a head in August 2017 when white supremacists protested the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Virginia. This led to a confrontation where a car drove into a group of counter-protesters, killing a woman.
This week, Virginia took a bold step to distance itself from the Confederacy by voting to strike Lee-Jackson Day from the list of state holidays. The holiday, observed on the Friday before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January, honors Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson as "defenders of causes."
The @VASenate just passed @SenLouiseLucas's SB 601 eliminating Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday and making Election Day a state holiday. pic.twitter.com/elGtbLHGWj
— Jennifer McClellan (@JennMcClellanVA) January 21, 2020
Jackson was one of the South's most successful generals during the Civil War. Lee was a Confederate general who led the campaign, facing the North at some of the bloodiest battles including Antietam and Gettysburg.
Lee-Jackson day was founded over 100 years ago and is commemorated with Civil War-themed parties, wreath-laying ceremonies, and Civil War reenactments.
Lee-Jackson Day Parade in Lexington. On my way to breakfast pic.twitter.com/RtqIGfHWZG
— Elliott “Luke Warm Takes" Harding (@emh434) January 17, 2015
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam hopes to replace Lee-Jackson day with an Election Day holiday that would give people the day off to vote.
"We need to make Election Day a holiday," he said in his State of the Commonwealth speech last month. "We can do it by ending the Lee-Jackson holiday that Virginia holds ... It commemorates a lost cause. It's time to move on."
While Virginia is moving on from its Confederate holiday, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina still commemorate Confederate Memorial Day. Alabama also commemorates Confederate president Jefferson Davis' birthday while combining Lee's birthday with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — which makes zero sense.