Stripped of state holiday status, Lee-Jackson Day activities continue in Lexington

This is the first time in more than 100 years the commonwealth is not recognizing the holiday

Despite it not being a recognized holiday in Virginia, a group of people still gathered to celebrate Lee-Jackson Day.

LEXINGTON, Va – For the first time in more than 100 years, the Commonwealth of Virginia did not observe Lee-Jackson Day.

Despite it no longer being a state holiday, the Virginia Flaggers and the Stonewall Brigade of the Sons of Confederate Veterans still gathered in Lexington to celebrate the day.

“Well for us, it’s a family or blood matter. We’re all descendants of Confederate veterans,” said Brandon Dorsey of the Stonewall Brigade of the Sons of Confederate Veterans

The city has seen some major changes in terms of recognizing its own history in the last year.

Virginia Military Institute removed its Stonewall Jackson statue and the cemetery formerly named for the Confederate general is now named Oak Grove.

Mayor Frank Friedman said the city has had a year full of reflection and hard conversations.

“There is no finish line, getting along being respectful and working together, is a perpetual motion, and that’s something that never changes,” said Lexington Mayor Frank Friedman.

But Lee-Jackson Day organizers like Brandon Dorsey believe that change is not always good thing.

He and his peers have had to limit in-person attendance because of the pandemic, but hope to spend the weekend focusing on their ancestors’ past.

“The way things are going. Unfortunately, people just aren’t talking to each other, become highly-charged emotional issues, based in and reflected in our modern culture and really has nothing to do the arguments today with the past itself,” said Dorsey.

Friedman said it’s important that his community continue to have hard discussions about what will be best for the city moving forward.

“Never asking people to necessarily like the decisions that are made or the changes that are made, but certainly to understand it that’s the main piece that we ask of our citizens, because again the council is working very thoughtfully to make sure we have a safe, respectful city, regardless of what the names may be,” Friedman said.

The same groups are expected to gather at the Stonewall Jackson statue on Saturday morning followed by a parade along Main Street.

About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.