Editorials

Confederate Memorial Day is not the right way for Mississippi to honor war heroes

A screen shot from the Mississippi Secretary of State's web page shows the official declaration of Confederate Memorial Day as a state holiday.
A screen shot from the Mississippi Secretary of State's web page shows the official declaration of Confederate Memorial Day as a state holiday.

It is past time to end Confederate Memorial Day.

For most of the Coast, it has already ended. The vast majority of government bodies and the people of the Coast have chosen to ignore it. For everyone except the employees of Harrison County, Monday will be business as usual.

The state should make it official and strike Confederate Memorial Day from the list of legal holidays. A holiday that will surely be met with derision by a sizable portion of the U.S. population does little to honor Mississippians who fought in the war.

Those who truly wish to remember and honor those who fought in the Civil War have a day to do so: Memorial Day, the last Monday in May. That holiday was born from the ashes of the Civil War to honor all those who died in its battles, be they from the North or the South. In Columbus, at one of the first observances, flowers were placed on Union and Rebel graves alike.

And that is as it should be.

Confederate Memorial Day is divisive. It attempts to obscure the fact that slavery was the reason for the war. It is not, as some will undoubtedly argue, about honoring the bravery and sacrifice of those on the losing side. As we have pointed out, there is a day for that. This is not about erasing history. Mississippi and the former Confederate states have set aside battlefields and museums in the name of preserving history.

The Vicksburg National Military Park and the others present the history of the war from both sides, with monuments and narratives from both sides.

A large share of Mississippi's population is African American, many of whom had ancestors forcefully brought to the South as slaves. They, we suspect, would rather commemorate the fact that because the South lost the war, their ancestors won their freedom.

The war lasted just four years and that was more than 150 years ago. It pitted American against American. We should not be fighting this battle still. We should not be keeping the greatest lie in our history — that one race holds superiority over another — alive.

We should not fan the flames of the hatred espoused by the Ku Klux Klan and others who wage a covert war against people of color. Instead, we should do everything in our power to show all people that they are all accepted and celebrated here.

We should not be forcing taxpayers to pay for holidays that commemorate causes they do not support. We hope Harrison County takes that into consideration later this year when it sets the 2019 holidays. The Legislature in 2019 should remove Confederate Memorial Day from the list of state holidays.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.
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