Not an April Fools’ joke: Georgia celebrates Confederate History Month

Traci G. Lee, @traciglee

April 1 marked the start of Confederate Heritage and History Month in Georgia.

The month is meant to celebrate the South’s effort during the Civil War, according to a press release from the Sons of Confederate Veterans:

So much is portrayed by Hollywood today that Georgia and the South were evil; when, in reality, the South was the most peaceful, rural, and Christian part of America before war and Reconstruction destroyed the pastoral way of life here.

The celebratory month is also in accordance with Georgia’s law:

The month of April of each year is hereby designated as Confederate History and Heritage Month and shall be set aside to honor, observe, and celebrate the Confederate States of America, its history, those who served in its armed forces and government, and all those millions of its citizens of various races and ethnic groups and religions who contributed in sundry and myriad ways to the cause which they held so dear from its founding on February 4, 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama, until the Confederate ship CSS Shenandoah sailed into Liverpool Harbor and surrendered to British authorities on November 6, 1865.

According to Ray McBerry, the two-time GOP candidate for governor who serves as the PR agent behind the issue, said the celebration is also meant to clear up misconceptions about the old South. “The way that slavery was in the Old South is not in keeping with the way it has been portrayed,” McBerry told The Daily Beast.

McBerry added that the Civil War was not solely about slavery: “It was about a federal government that was out of control and imposing its will on the states—a federal government that was acting beyond the scope of the Constitution. Ironically, some of the very issues we are debating today.”

Confederate History Month is not a new event. Several states traditionally observe Confederate History Month, including Alabama, Virginia, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida.

In 2010, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell re-instated Confederate History Month, saying it was important for Virginians to “understand the Sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present.” Then-Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour defended McDonnell on CNN, saying that the “recognition of Confederate history also recognizes that slavery was one of the causes of the war, an issue in the war, was ended by the war and slavery is hereby condemned.”

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