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Lee Jackson Day in the United States

Lee-Jackson Day is a state holiday in Virginia, the United States, to remember two of the Civil War's Confederate leaders – Robert E Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. It is annually celebrated on the Friday before Martin Luther King Day.

Is Lee Jackson Day a Public Holiday?

Lee Jackson Day is a public holiday in Virginia, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

The Virginia Memorial at the Gettysburg National Battlefield features General Robert E Lee mounted on his horse "Traveller".

©iStockphoto.com/drnadig

What Do People Do?

Lee-Jackson Day is part of a four-day weekend for many people in Virginia, as the following Monday is Martin Luther King Day. The long weekend gives people the chance to catch up with family and friends, go on short breaks, or rest and unwind from work or studies. The day’s theme is a controversial topic of debate among some groups.

Lee-Jackson Day is also a full day of celebration in some cities in Virginia including Lexington City. Those living in Lexington City take part in activities such as:

  • Parades.
  • Re-enactments.
  • Period music.
  • Special guest speakers.
  • Memorial services.
  • A luncheon.

Some people visit Robert E Lee’s and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s final home and resting places on this day.

Public Life

Lee-Jackson Day is a state holiday in Virginia so state offices are closed. Many schools and businesses (eg. stores) are open. Those planning on travelling in the state will need to check with their local transport authorities on possible amendments to public transport timetables on this day.

Background

Lee-Jackson Day honors Confederate leaders Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870) and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (1824-1863). General Lee led the military and naval forces during the Civil War until he surrendered to General Ulysses Grant in 1865, which marked the end of the war. Thomas Jackson's greatest victory was when he led his troops around the Union right flank at Chancellorsville to route the 11th Corps. However, he was wounded and died eight days later on May 10, 1863.

Virginia began observing Lee's birthday on January 19 in 1889. Jackson's remembrance was added to the holiday in 1904. Martin Luther King Day became a federal holiday on January 15 in 1983, which was close to Lee-Jackson Day. The days were combined in Virginia (known then as Lee-Jackson-King Day) until 2000 when they became separate holidays. It was arranged so that Lee-Jackson Day was to be held on the Friday before Martin Luther King Day.

Symbols

Various monuments and memorials are dedicated to Robert E Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. However, one of the most famous monuments to General Lee, a 60-foot (18-meter) statue of his likeness in New Orleans, was removed in 2017. West Virginia’s Stonewall Jackson State Park is named after Jackson. Both Lee and Jackson have been characterized in novels, television series, movies, and comic books.

Lee Jackson Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010FriJan 15Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2011FriJan 14Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2012FriJan 13Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2013FriJan 18Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2014FriJan 17Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2015FriJan 16Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2016FriJan 15Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2017FriJan 13Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2018FriJan 12Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2019FriJan 18Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia
2020FriJan 17Lee Jackson DayState holidayVirginia

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