- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 11, 2001

Virginia state employees will begin a four-day weekend tomorrow to celebrate Lee-Jackson Day and King Day, the newly created state holiday carved out of the old Lee-Jackson-King Day.
Ever since the federal government recognized the third Monday in January as King Day, in honor of Martin Luther King, Virginians have celebrated Lee-Jackson-King Day, an amalgamation of the new holiday and the state's traditional recognition of Virginia natives and Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
But last year Gov. James S. Gilmore III proposed, and the legislature passed, a plan to split the days and give employees a four-day weekend. The federal King Day, the third Monday in January, remains King Day in Virginia, and the Friday before that Monday is now Lee-Jackson Day. More than 110,000 state employees are eligible for the holiday.
Next week also marks one year since someone firebombed a portrait of Lee, which was part of a mural hanging on a flood wall in Richmond last Lee-Jackson-King Day.
Police still have not made an arrest in the Jan. 17 incident, even though they put out a CrimeStoppers alert and a fire-watch alert and rewards were offered for leads in the case.
"We have no real leads, no suspects," said Christie Collins, a spokeswoman for Richmond police.
Police had hoped that security cameras from nearby businesses had caught the culprit on video, but the cameras were pointed in the wrong direction, she said.
Confederacy enthusiasts had asked that the case be investigated as a hate crime, but Ms. Collins said they treated it as a vandalism case "because there was no real threat to any particular target, there was no real victim."
The mural quickly was replaced and remains hanging today. Officials from the Riverfront Development Corp., which runs the mural project, said there have been no problems since last year's burning.
But the mural-burning illustrates the odd marriage of the old holiday. Virginians generally did not celebrate all three men, usually choosing to honor either the Confederates or King.
That's why splitting the holiday worried some history buffs, who thought Lee and Jackson would be lost in the move and they may be correct. Schools, banks and other businesses aren't following the state's lead, choosing only to have a King holiday.
Schools in Northern Virginia have named their holiday in honor of King for a number of years now, and haven't changed that. But elsewhere in the state, some schools used to list the holiday in honor of all three, while this year's calendar lists only King Day.
Asked about schools' decisions, Mr. Gilmore was reserved.
"I think that's a local school decision for them to make," Mr. Gilmore said. "This celebration, at the end, must rise out of the communities."
And defenders of Lee and Jackson say splitting the holidays is still best.
"I think I'd prefer to have it the way it's been changed," said John P. Ackerly III, a board member for the Charlottesville-based Lee-Jackson Foundation.
Henry Kidd, commander of the Virginia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said his group will ensure the generals aren't left behind.
"We have gone out of our way to plan extra activities and ceremonies," he said. "We're making sure that the state does not forget General Jackson and General Lee."
More pressing than the holidays, advocates say, is teaching children about the men.
Places like the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond will do that by offering free admission tomorrow.
Stratford Hall, the Lee family home in Westmoreland County, will celebrate on its own schedule.
"We hold an open house every year on Lee's birthday; we continue to do so," said retired Marine Col. Thomas Taylor, Stratford's executive director. "It's free admission, and it's always a nice turnout."
Lee was born on Jan. 19, 1807; Jackson was born on Jan. 21, 1824; and King on Jan. 15, 1929.


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