DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — For many, April 27 may be just another day, but for Alabama, it’s is a state holiday: Confederate Memorial Day.
“We are celebrating the confederate soldier that gave their heart and soul to protecting what they felt like was their family, and their state and country,” said Mary Ellen Sanders, president of General Williams C. Oates 1342 chapter of the United Daughters of Confederacy.
Sanders said the state holiday honors fallen relatives of the Civil War.
“Confederacy was a group of states that got together and seceded from the union,” explained Ramona Hall, member of the UDC.
Alabama is one of a few southern states that continue to officially recognize Confederate Memorial Day as a state holiday, but not all Alabamians believe its the right way to remember those who died.
“For those that want to celebrate, they can go to a museum on this day or whatever they select, but not let it be a state holiday,” said Bernard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP.
Simelton worries this state holiday is sending the wrong message.
“We think that the Confederate, if it is to be memorialized in any way, it needs to be in a museum where people can celebrate and go and take the time to remember that period in history, that dark period in history, in a museum and not out in public where everyone has to view and see and remember what the Confederate did to African Americans,” Simelton explained.
Some believe as part of their heritage they will continue to celebrate it for years to come.
“We want to honor our ancestors,” Hall said. “I’ve never seen my ancestors that fought in the civil war. Alabama celebrates it because we have a rich heritage for veterans in our state.”
So while the state holiday for some is one of heritage, for others, it is a dark part of history.