How was YOUR Confederate Memorial Day?

Never got around to writing about this yesterday. I almost put it on my front page, but didn’t. I almost did that because I thought it would be largely glossed over by the MSM, and the thing is… it’s really startling news.

Seriously, yesterday the state that we (most of us, anyway) actually live in observed Confederate Memorial Day. We shut down government offices, people, paying all those thousands of employees to stay home and remember and honor the Confederacy.

In 2010. In America. The country that generation after generation of South Carolinians have bled and died for long after the madness of 1860-65 was behind us.  You know, that episode in which our ancestors (mine, anyway; I don’t know about you) rose up and went to war against the United States of America.

Think about it.

Maybe it’s just as well that I didn’t write about it until now, because I know that most readers (whether they work in the public or private sectors) tend to read this blog during working hours — I feel sort of guilty about that, but only a little — and I’d like to ask the state employees among my readers a question:

How did it feel to have the day off for that reason?

Mind you, The State newspaper used to celebrate it, too, but before my day. Or at least, the paper used it as an excuse not to give employees the day off on Yankee Memorial Day. Only during my tenure at the paper did we start taking off that day at the end of May. But to the best of my recollection I never actually had Confederate Memorial Day off.

So I’m curious as to what state employees who were off think about it.

17 thoughts on “How was YOUR Confederate Memorial Day?

  1. Michael P.

    Why is this “startling news”? It’s been observed for years.

    What does it really matter how people observe or don’t observe that day? It would be like me chastising you, the good Catholic, for leaving work to go to Ash Wednesday services. That day, which is just Wednesday to me, but to you its an important day to observe. Same goes with those who observe Confederate Memorial Day. If there is a problem with this state holiday, I suggest you take it up with your legislators.

    Do you have a problem celebrating Independence Day? Those who fought against England would have been executed for treason if the Revolutionary War had been lost.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    I can remember when the national anthem, of the US of A, that is, was not sung at events–“My Country ’tis of Thee” was (and was it weird that the Englishman helicopter pilot at Rotary yesterday knew all the words to our version of “God Save the Queen”?)–at least now we sing “The Star Spangled Banner” everywhere. I don’t remember anyone’s singing “Dixie” as is the rumor from the 50s.

    Lexington County, per the paper, but not Richland County, took the day off. Dog bites man.

  3. Karen McLeod

    What can I say? When I first started working for the state, we got Confederate Memorial Day off. Then they gave us a “personal holiday” rather than offer MLK day. This persisted thru several permutations until there was again a push for the MLK day. At that point, some of our state legislators decided to insist that if we were to celebrate that date we had to balance it with Confederate Memorial day, so here we are.

  4. Brad

    My point, Michael, is that this thing that we take for granted in SC actually IS startling, if you stop and think about it. And I was trying to get people to stop and think about it.

    And Kathryn, my point is that at some point in SC, we’ve got to get sick and tired of this particular dog biting this particular man. Dog deserves a swift kick, although I know that’s going to get me in trouble with the animal-lovers…

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    No kicking dogs.

    I have proposed in the past, when metal prices were so high, that we could liberate some dough by melting down Pitchfork Ben and the other segregationists’ statues throughout the state.

    The thing is, Michael P., we don’t automatically give state employees Ash Wednesday off. They have to take a personal day. On Good Friday,several of my choir mates had to really book it to get back to work after an overly long mid-day service….and many government instrumentalities do not close on *national* memorial holidays like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day (USC holds classes on both usually).

  6. Michael P.

    Brad, what exactly do you want us to think about? It’s a state holiday, do you sit and ponder every holiday you got off as to the meaning of the day? Just because you’re against this day doesn’t mean everyone else in this state is? If I recall, you aren’t a native of this state (neither am I) and maybe it doesn’t have the meaning to you or me that it does of someone who’s been here more than half of a generation.

    Kathryn, as you know it varies who gets this day off. USC employees don’t get Confederate Memorial Day off, nor do they get Memorial Day off. State employees start out with 15 days of annual leave, which is 5 more than most other companies. If they have to take a personal day off for their religious and personal convictions so be it.

  7. Brad

    Well, you remember wrong. I was born here.

    And as a citizen and voter in this state, the paid days off we give our state employees are very much my concern.

    And as Karen pointed out, “our state legislators decided to insist that if we were to celebrate that date [MLK Day] we had to balance it with Confederate Memorial day.”

    Personally, I wasn’t crazy about making MLK Day a holiday because I didn’t think we needed to pay state employees to be off any more days than we already were. But the idea that it has to be “balanced” with a special holiday for white folks — because you know, no WHITE people would want to honor MLK — says some pretty awful things about us. Now, either those things are true, or our lawmakers ASSUME they’re true. Either way, we get a state that’s run on the assumption that white people and black people have no interests in common.

    And everyone who cares about that even a little bit needs to stand up and oppose it.

  8. Michael P.

    Then write your congressmen. Just because Brad Warthen doesn’t get all warm and fuzzy about something doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If you were king we’d all NPR listening liberals.

    BTW – Isn’t MLK Day also Robert E. Lee’s birthday?

  9. Brad

    Burl, you cracked me up…

    Michael, close enough — Jan. 19. Kind of cool, huh? We could celebrate Marse Robert at the same time, if so inclined…

  10. Karen McLeod

    Brad, if it makes you feel any better they took away our personal holiday and election day (which we used to get off in election years) in order to give us those 2. So basically most of us gained a day we don’t particularly want every other year, for a day we could choose (and one could choose either of those dates if one wished), and a day that made it easier for us to vote.

  11. Karen McLeod

    And you’re right, that assumption sucks, and irritated the hang out of me (another reason why Sen. McConnell is not one of my favorite legislators–he was the driving force behind the insistance on CMD).

  12. Michael P.

    I guess it’s just observed on that Monday.

    I thought Obama was 50% white… the only black part of him ran off when he was 2 years old.

  13. Phillip

    Michael P says “maybe it doesn’t have the meaning to you or me that it does of someone who’s been here more than half of a generation.”

    You’re right, Michael: it certainly has a meaning to African-American descendants of slaves whose families have been here more than half of a generation. Kind of like the meaning a Third Reich Memorial Day would have to Jewish people in Germany, if there were such a national holiday there.

  14. Michael P.

    Phillip, I didn’t happen to see any of these slave descendants protesting on Confederate Memorial Day when I drove past the State House on Monday. It couldn’t have bothered them too much. I think it bothers you more than it does them.

  15. Kathryn Fenner

    I bet the slave descendants couldn’t take time off work. Most have the sort of jobs that aren’t very flexible that way.
    There has been a very large turnout on MLK Day every year!

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