Debate over celebration: Duel or Dual... or Triple?
MKL Day, Lee–Jackson Day, Lee–Jackson–King Day? What is being celebrated today?
|Martin Luther King & Robert E. Lee|
For most people, the third Monday of January marks celebration of not one, but two revered individuals: Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with his devotion to A Committed Life (1960s) and General Robert E. Lee as an exceptional commander of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War (1861–1865). There is a bit of irony surrounding the celebration of these two men. It’s hard to reconcile this schism in observances between honoring a man who fought for racial equality on the same day as another who fought to keep blacks enslaved. Quite ironic - wouldn't you agree?
Debate has raged for decades. On one hand are those who seek to honor the Rev. King for his instrumentation in the civil rights movement, while on the other hand a handful of states choose to salute General Lee, the commanding officer of the Confederate Army. Thus, a conflict or duel in opinions. Different states plan different events with most states celebrating Martin Luther King Day as an independent event. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi dually celebrate proudly acknowledging Lee’s at the same time on King’s designated day.
|Robert E. Lee Day|
|Observed by||Southern United States|
|Next time||19 January 2015|
|Related to||Martin Luther King Jr. Day|
Conflict in Virginia, Lee's home state...
In Lexington, VA, which holds the largest Lee celebration in the state, Lee’s birthday is celebrated on January 14th. But the Washington Post reports that:
When Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday (Jan. 15, 1929) became a federal holiday in 1983, Virginia marked [King and Lee’s] birthdays on the same date rather than give state workers two days off. It was an awkward situation that was finally resolved when the state joined the federal government in marking King’s birthday on the third Monday of the month.
In 1904, the Virginia legislature added the birthday of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824) to the holiday Robert E. Lee Day, thereby giving birth to Lee–Jackson Day. Later, from 1984 to 2000, Lee–Jackson–King Day was a holiday celebrated in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Because of the seemingly incongruency behind the leaders being honored—lives of Confederate generals and a civil rights icon—the holidays are now celebrated separately as Lee–Jackson Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
History is intriguing with its twists and turns if you just take the time to understand the methods behind all the human madness. Fascinating!