National News

TEXAS TO OBSERVE CONFEDERATE HEROES DAY

Posted January 18, 2018 7:38 p.m. EST

AUSTIN - The state of Texas will observe Confederate Heroes Day on Friday, despite numerous efforts in recent years to nix the holiday.

Confederate Heroes Day is considered a "skeleton crew" holiday, meaning state offices will remain open but some employees can choose to take the day off. They can also choose to work and take a different day off, such as Cesar Chavez Day or Rosh Hashanah.

Despite a revived public outcry against Confederate symbols, statutes, and even schools named after Confederate leaders, Texas continues to celebrate the holiday, which is written into law.

First declared a Texas holiday in 1931, the day recognizes Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee's birthday and occasionally lands on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

A few other states, including Mississippi and Alabama, also observe the holiday this month. Virginia observes Lee-Jackson Day, celebrating Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

In Texas, there have been various efforts, mainly by Democrats, to change the holiday's name. In 2015, after an attack on a Charleston church, Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, authored a bill to change the name of the holiday to Civil War Remembrance Day. Her bill was inspired by a 13-year-old who proposed the new name.

Howard's bill failed to pass. In last year's regular session, Rep. Helen Giddings, D-Desoto, also tried to change the name to Civil War Remembrance Day. That too failed.

In the debate over Howard's bill, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, said at the time that changing the name would help Texas move forward.

"We do better by removing those, not only reminders, but those things that aggrandize and put a positive light on what most Americans agree was not a positive part of our history," Coleman said.