The South Celebrates on Lee-Jackson Day
The War Between the States ended in 1865, but the legacy of the South lives on every year when Lee-Jackson Day is celebrated in Virginia every January 20th. The day is meant to observe the strength of conviction and loyalty felt by General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson to their native state during the wrenching years that temporarily drove our nation apart.
General Robert E. Lee is considered one of America’s finest military leaders, and is admired by both Southerners and Northerners alike. While the nation was divided into Yankee and Confederate, both General Lee and Jackson were forced to divide their loyalties between national duty and duty to their own states. It was not an easy decision for either man to make, but they stood by their convictions and remained loyal to their states. The war is long over, and Americans throughout the nation recognize the importance of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in American history. Though they fought for the Confederacy, they continue to be considered Americans, as all who fought in the war, and the passage of time has allowed wounds and scars to heal.
While celebrated mostly in Virginia and parts of the South, Lee-Jackson Day also reminds all Americans that though many of us have our differences, we are still One Nation Under God. The Confederate flag still flies in many locations in the south, alongside the flag of the United States, a legacy from the Civil War that will most likely continue into the distant future. In the south, Lee-Jackson Day is celebrated with speeches and parades. Displays of Civil War period attire and weaponry delight locals and visitors who are interested in history, and schools around the country teach children about the two greatest leaders of the South during the Civil War.
The original celebration of Lee-Jackson day occurred in 1889, designed mainly to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee. The foundation of the celebration is held at the Lee-Jackson memorial in Baltimore, Maryland and is attended by throngs of citizens who also remember the thousands of Americans killed during the Civil War, from both sides. Patriotic organizations, veterans groups and those belonging to the Sons or Daughter’s of the Confederacy groups also attend, as well as Americans throughout the country who find themselves visiting either General Lee or Jackson’s birthplaces on that date. Civil War reenactment groups also participate, holding mock battles and maneuvers for observers, as well as parades and formal ceremonies honoring both the American and Confederate flags. Beloved songs of the South are sung, and southern foods are generally on the bill of fare as are other entertainments.
Military and civilian groups are welcome to attend these ceremonies, and are invited to join in. Historical battalion and battle flags are in abundance, as are period costumes and artifacts, and the sound of cannon and musket fire often echo over the rolling hills of the south on this day. Southern pride still runs deep, and while celebrating the legacy of two of America’s greatest military leaders, all Americans can appreciate the sacrifices and dedication to all of the men and women who served their country during the War Between the States.
The courage of both men is a testament of American strength and duty, admired by all during the Civil War and the years since its end. Because the American Civil War was such a difficult period in our history, people everywhere take the day to remember the valuable lesson obtained from the dark years when brother fought brother and the nation split in two. Since the Civil War ended in 1865, the United States of America has stood as one, never to be divided again. Southerners and Northerners are all Americans.