Confederate Memorial Day: What is the controversial holiday recognized in Florida?

A controversial holiday being acknowledged this week is drawing strong reactions and protest.


The day in question is Confederate Memorial Day, or Confederate Heroes Day or Confederate Decoration Day, depending on what state you’re in.

READ: Come Out with Pride working to bring WorldPride event to Orlando

Here’s a look at the history of the controversial day.

What is it?

The state holiday is meant to honor those who fought and died in the Civil War.

Who recognizes it?

Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina all either recognize Confederate Memorial Day as a state holiday or commemorate it.

READ: Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra organized by Met, Polish operas

When is it?

That depends on what state you’re in. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Alabama and Mississippi observed Confederate Memorial Day on Monday, while Florida and Louisiana will celebrate it on Tuesday, the day Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered.

How did it start?

Confederate Memorial Day stretches back to the late 1800s. The first official celebration of the day was marked by a state proclamation in Georgia in 1874.

EXPLAINER: Why are Disney and DeSantis feuding in Florida?

What is the response to it?

The holiday has drawn criticism from some lawmakers and organizations.

In February 2021, Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) filed legislation to eliminate Confederate Memorial Day, as well as two other Confederate holidays in the state: birthdays of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Jan. 19, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis on June 3.

“As a State, we must underscore diversity and undercut tributes to Confederacy, which upheld the institution of slavery,” Book said in a news release at the time. “With the hate and divisiveness we’re seeing today, it is more important than ever to condemn racism and reaffirm that we are indeed ‘one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all — not just for some.”

READ: Local brewery plans another taproom

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.