Random Thoughts on Lee-Jackson Day

Photograph: Richmond Crawford, Jr., 1957

Photograph: Richmond Crawford, Jr., 1957

Yes, Virginia, there is a holiday.

When I had my first government job way back in the dark ages Virginia celebrated the third Monday of January as Lee-Jackson Day. When the same day was recognized on the federal level as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, for a time Virginia celebrated Lee-Jackson-King Day.

I swear I am not making this up.

Then, in the late 1990s, then Governor Jim Gilmore signed legislation to provide, separate-but-equal, if you will, holidays with Friday being recognized as Lee-Jackson Day, and Monday as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

It was a compromise.

As someone who is generally fiscally conservative it seemed (seems?) to be a bit of a waste of taxpaper resources.

However, as a 22-year state employee, I can tell you that no one, and I mean no one, snarks at a four-day weekend just two weeks after Christmas.

I’m not going to debate the history here (at least not this time). All I’ll say is that it’s important to remember.

Whether you choose to honor it or hate it (again a debate for another day and maybe even someone else’s blog), the least responsible thing to do would be to erase it.

Virginia has a lot of history. Some of it good. Some of it ugly.

Some of it producing a lot of tourism revenue and creating a lot of jobs.

I’m still working on the family line, but much of my family was here from the beginning, including some being here pre-European settlers. I’m sure there’s some ugly stuff back there in the family line.

I’m also old enough that the day I started first grade was the first day schools were desegregated in my home county.

I will not, and should not, ever forget that.

As for our house Christmas 2016 is now history. I’ll be erasing Christmas this weekend. No, I did not take it down during the snow storm. Don’t judge.

But we won’t forget it just because it’s over, or because some things went wrong, or bad choices were made.

We need to learn from history. Not forget it.


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