Confederate Memorial Day should not be a state holiday

Even though it was fought 157 years ago, the Civil War’s startling, lifelong effects on America are still seen today. It can come in the form of what many southerners call “Southern Pride”, which is often symbolized by the parading of Confederate Flags and the claim that the Civil War “wasn’t really about slavery”. Symbolism and claims aside, the Confederate Memorial Day is still recognized as a state holiday in Mississippi every year on April 25th. It is also an official state holiday in other deep south states like Alabama and South Carolina. While in Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee, the holiday is only commemorated.

The celebration and recognition of Confederate Memorial Day is racist and unpatriotic. While it is no secret that many Mississippians cling to their supposed Confederate heritage (the Mississippi state flag was only fairly recently changed to not have a Confederate flag on it), the holiday is representative of Mississippi’s darkest times. It celebrates a time where people thought that owning another human being was justifiable and ethically right, when the promotion of one race over another was a way of life, and when the murder of people over their race was a cultural norm. 

Not only is this holiday unethical to celebrate, it is not representative of all Mississippians, nor is it promoting positive behavior. Unlike Black History Month or Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Confederate soldiers fought for the exact opposite of moral behaviors. Violence should not be celebrated, and unfortunately, it is what is actively happening with the recognition of this holiday. 

While the Confederate soldiers wholeheartedly believed in what they were fighting for was right, I will gently remind you that the Confederate soldiers lost the Civil War. The soldiers that are commemorated with this holiday are traitors to their own country. The Union soldiers are recognized on Memorial Day, where officially all of the veterans of the United States Army are memorialized. The simple fact that the Confederate soldiers are not a part of that holiday makes the celebration of Confederate Memorial Day unpatriotic.

Notice that the people who benefitted from this white supremacy 157 years ago (and arguably still today) are the same people who are promoting this harmful holiday. In no way is this holiday representative of a realistic and current reality in Mississippi in which racial equality is celebrated and Mississippi’s dark past is not swept under the rug, but recognized as the darkest time in American history. Instead of commemorating the same people that happily and frequently murdered others over their skin color, Mississippians must make an active effort to repudiate this harmful behavior and not recognize Confederate Memorial Day any longer.