Confederate Flag rises again at SC State House
Years after the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House, the controversial icon returned to its former home's steps Saturday.
Though the demonstration wasn't state-sanctioned, the holiday it was celebrating is: Confederate Memorial Day.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans aren't the only ones celebrating May 10 this year. All non-essential state employees will have the day off Thursday and state government offices will close as part of a state holiday, S.C. Department of Administration spokeswoman Kelly Coakley said.
State universities make their own decision about observing the holidays, Coakley said. Clemson University will be celebrating commencement, according to a statement, and the University of South Carolina will continue business as usual, spokesman Jeff Stensland said in an email.
State parks and welcome centers will also be open.
State lawmakers will be working, with Thursday the last day of this session.
Some local governments are taking time off to observe the holiday, too. Lexington County will be closing its administrative offices, according to a statement.
South Carolina is one of the few states that officially observe Confederate Memorial Day, numbering among Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Georgia, though not all states celebrate it on the same day.
What is Confederate Memorial Day?
The celebration of the Confederate lives lost during the Civil War can trace its roots back to at least 1874, when the Georgia General Assembly approved it as a public holiday to be celebrated on April 26, according to GeorgiaInfo, a University System of Georgia almanac.
April 26 marks the day in 1865 when Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston surrendered to Gen. William T. Sherman, and Georgia was no longer part of the war. This year, Georgia celebrated on April 23.
According to the article, some believe the unofficial holiday was first organized in 1866 by a group of women in Columbus, Georgia, who later organized the Atlanta Ladies' Memorial Association. Their first April 26 celebration of the holiday was at a cemetery.
Ten other Southern states picked up the holiday by 1916, according to the article.
Confederate Memorial Day in South Carolina
The celebration became official after a 2000 bill passed, adding both Confederate Memorial Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day to the list of official holidays. As part of the South Carolina Heritage Act of 1999, the holiday was made legal and pulled from the list of optional holidays.
The Confederate flag was also named "a symbol of American History, heritage and honor," and the bill also gave it a place in front of the State House, where it hung until 2015.
South Carolina celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the day Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson died from pneumonia. CSA President Jefferson Davis was also captured by Union troops on May 10.