Why Georgia won’t celebrate Confederate Memorial Day today

Joseph Andrews waves a confederate battle flag towards a mass of counter-protesters in April 2016. Ben Gray, bgray@ajc.com

The fourth Monday in April had for decades been known in Georgia as Confederate Memorial Day. But this year, the day goes by the much more neutral title: “State Holiday.”

Most state employees will still take Monday off, but they will no longer officially be memorializing the South’s casualties. That’s because Gov. Nathan Deal in 2015 struck Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday from the state’s official holiday calendar, replacing them with the less controversial nomenclature.

Deal’s decision to quietly change the names came amid increased scrutiny of Georgia’s embrace of Confederate symbols after the massacre of nine black worshippers at a Charleston church by a suspected white supremacist.

State-issued license plates featuring the Rebel emblem have been altered, though only slightly. Statues and paintings of Confederate leaders in the statehouse are facing fresh criticism. A plan to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a statue on the statehouse grounds is in the works. And state officials proposed to build a memorial for black soldiers near the giant paean to the Confederate war dead.

In a 2015 interview, Deal said the change was meant to “show that we are a state that has come a very long way.”

“We are tolerant of a lot of things. But we will also protect our heritage,” he said, adding: “This was not one of those areas where I thought it was necessary to keep those labels associated with the holiday.”

The debate, of course, rages on. A flood of emails to the governor’s office after the 2015 name change brought responses ranging from praise to charges of cowardice. The Sons of Confederate Veterans labeled it “an act of dishonor.” And demonstrators brandishing Rebel flags held dueling rallies with counter-protesters at Stone Mountain in April 2016.

 

Reader Comments 0

281 comments
Jay Smallwood
Jay Smallwood

When is Black America gonna ask reparations from the Democratic Party?

Jay Smallwood
Jay Smallwood

Remember....Grant owned slaves and was hero of the Union...Lee didnt own slaves....whos on your $50 bill? Heres another fun nugget...the Democrat Party put Blacks in chains...hacks of the Democrat Party trying to buy Black votes remove monuments to cover up the past that party did to their constituents ancestors....Ironic aint it?

Jared Howard
Jared Howard

This is going around again. Memorial Day or Decoration Day as it was called when the holiday came about. Decoration Day was meant to honor soldiers that fought for the Union and the Confederacy. Later the day was expanded on to include honoring fallen US soldiers of modern wars. I think having a Confederate memorial day is redundant. Every Memorial day I fly a US flag and a Confederate battle flag. One for each uncle that fought in the civil war.

Brandon Paxton
Brandon Paxton

Good riddance. A place in history, NOT a celebration of defeat. #REALTALK

David Andrews
David Andrews

This a damn shame and disgrace for the state of Georgia. Heritage is NOT hatred!!!

Anna Altfeder
Anna Altfeder

Pathetic! Happy Confederate Memorial Day to patriots everywhere. Ignore the biased, ignorant masses. History is relevant.

Elizabeth Chapman
Elizabeth Chapman

Price of Gutless Political Correctness Worshipping at the Altar of Business! TRUTH Cannot Be Changed nor Denied... Right & Wrong are Always on the Stage of History & Blood Shed on Southern Soil cannot be wiped away by the Stroke of a Governor's Pen... But Always Will Be Remembered by the Descendants of those Honored in the Heart, if not in the Public Consciousness!! My Great Grandfather suffered and died as a result of being in a Northern POW Camp... I Will Always Remember!

Yulonda Kelley
Yulonda Kelley

Do they celebrate Hitler in Germany? No, they honor the Jews who lost their lives. We should as well, honor blacks and whites who fought for the constitution that read all men are created equal, the north fought for the freedom to include all people. That is something positive whites and blacks can build on. We wil never build on the promotion of a war that fought to keep my ancestors slaves.

Chris Wright
Chris Wright

Juan Serrato Your lover Nathan Deal removed this in 2015 along with Robert E Lee's B day and calls it a "State Holiday" ;)

John Gulett Jr.
John Gulett Jr.

i am proud of my.great grandfather's they went to war the state said so not for slaves but pride CSA is part of our. history and it will stay a live

MaryLynn McKaughan
MaryLynn McKaughan

wow..lets just erase all history that upsets any one. why not..independence day ,4th of july, christmas, thanksgiving ,black history month...ect! really people grow up!! you do not have to join in!!!

Andrew Klein
Andrew Klein

Independence Day and the Fourth of July are the same holiday.

Alan Mckay
Alan Mckay

Learn TRUE history. We flew the "southern cross" at half mass today. Teach everyone who will listen that the war of northern aggression was a defensive war for state rights. The south was attacked.

Mishelle Edgy
Mishelle Edgy

Melissa Edgy, show this to Daniel, somebody didn't get the memo

Don Paul
Don Paul

Losers don't get statues or holidays.

Jay Gradyman
Jay Gradyman

I live in Georgia and this is so Wrong! I say long live the C.S.A. [X]

Mike Albright
Mike Albright

The Civil War still happened whether the Pansies in charge for now chooses to remember it or not

Karen Lich Untz
Karen Lich Untz

The Civil War, or War of Northern Aggression, was over taxation.

Paul Spurling
Paul Spurling

Give it time they will finally figure it out then they will be coming for your flag too.....Southern Pride until I die.

Jewel Key
Jewel Key

Our soldiers died to save our nation just like the northern soldiers did.I celerate what what they gave(the ultimate sacrifice) I

Janice McMahan
Janice McMahan

Fly this flag...play Dixie !! It's history....get real !!!

Robert Willett
Robert Willett

Those who support the preservation of symbols had best take a look at your own political stance where government attitudes toward people of color are concerned. Stop referring to groups like BLM--an organization of citizens who are angry about poor policing--as Soros funded "terrorists", stop supporting attempts to deprive people of the right to vote, stop supporting attempts to destroy government programs designed to help minorities and the poor and start urging your leaders to sit down and have a sincere dialogue with the civil rights community.

Robert Willett
Robert Willett

OK, but where this stuff is concerned you get what you get.

Michael Wayne Simpson
Michael Wayne Simpson

Good..., all you Confederates can f..., off!!! Decomission this F..., up flag!!! This is America..., and the Union won the civil war..., end of story!!!

Chad Plymel
Chad Plymel

The first American slave owner was a black man. For such a racist man he was? Opps nevermind. Black people are not racist. History may repeat itself?

Joel Michaud
Joel Michaud

Blacks had slaves so it's ok that whites had slaves? Makes perfect sense.

Chad Plymel
Chad Plymel

I am very aware of that. I was joking. They are actually the most racist in all the world

Stacie Jackson
Stacie Jackson

Yes, we are so racist we enslaved white people. We went to Europe, conquered it and shipped its people off to be beat and raped daily for profit motives. I wonder how white folks would feel about us if we actually did that?

Linda Morgan
Linda Morgan

Can't keep us citizens from celebrating it though!

Nan Buxton
Nan Buxton

That is so stupid. Are we to wipe out the history of this country. No. What other countries have done same

Kimberly Lyons
Kimberly Lyons

Since when did we celebrate losers? Aren't all you right wingers complaining about the left being a bunch of whiners and handing out trophies to everyone? Isn't celebrating a lost war the same thing? #itsfunnyreally

Tricia Candela
Tricia Candela

I'm a right winger... I agree with you though.. Why celebrate defeat?

Bre-Cody Stephens
Bre-Cody Stephens

You do realize that flag is the flag the democrats flew right? I'm confused as to why democrats don't support the flag they used to fly.

Kimberly Lyons
Kimberly Lyons

I find the irony in the whining. Conservatives whine about the Liberals. Birds of the same feather.

Bre-Cody Stephens
Bre-Cody Stephens

Kimberly Lyons Yeah but you're targeting "right wingers". You need to brush up on your history.

Kimberly Lyons
Kimberly Lyons

No not really. Republicans are exactly what Democrats used to be.

Kimberly Lyons
Kimberly Lyons

They're pretty much the same now except what part of our lives they want to control.

Bre-Cody Stephens
Bre-Cody Stephens

The right represented the union and didn't lose the war because the democrats were represented by the confederacy. The only reason conservatives are standing up for the confederate flag is because we don't agree with censorship and suppression of the 1st amendment unlike the left. You cannot and should not erase history. It's surprising to hear you claim to be libertarian, yet be against free speech. Libertarians are supposed to be big on constitutional rights. I continuously hear the word bigotry being thrown around out of context. The definition of bigotry is being intolerant of others beliefs and opinions. Intolerant is to not be tolerant. Tolerant means: To ALLOW opinions and beliefs of others EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE. So by definition this makes the left the true Bigots. Conservatives may disagree but we always ALLOW the opinions and beliefs of others. We don't resort to trying to silence the voice of others.

Bre-Cody Stephens
Bre-Cody Stephens

Wrong. The two parties themselves never changed. The supporters are the only ones who changed. As whites became less racist during the 70s and 80s they made the transition over to the Republican Party. The majority of Blacks switched from republican to democrat beginning in the 30s with bribery and the promise of a welfare state. The democrats still run the same plantation, they just use a different more deceitful methodology. Instead of teaching people to be more successful the democrats decided to enable and create a welfare state and start giving government handouts. That's why you see the culture of poverty, drugs, and violence you see today. You can thank the democrats for that.