As a boy growing up in Virginia, this Monday was always Lee-Jackson-King Day. We celebrated the birth of two great Virginians and Civil War Generals Robert E. Lee, and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson; and of course the great American Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was born January 21, 1824. Martin Luther King Jr. was born January 15, 1929. As you can see, coincidence seems to have brought their birthdays together.
Robert E. Lee’s birthday has been celebrated as a Virginia holiday since 1889. In 1904, the legislature added the birthday of Stonewall Jackson to the holiday, and Lee-Jackson Day was born. Eighty years later, Republican President Ronald Reagan declared the day in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Virginia, who since 1978 had celebrated King’s Birthday in conjunction with New Years Day, made the change and simply tacked him onto Lee-Jackson Day. Thus Lee-Jackson-King Day was born.
In January of 2000, Virginia’s Republican Governor James Gilmore asked the Legislature to move Lee-Jackson Day to the previous Friday, which would give Martin Luther King, Jr. a holiday of his own. The Legislature agreed, and the holidays were shuffled around, giving Commonwealth of Virginia employees a nice long 4-day weekend.
I made the personal decision to keep the three men together on one day, as a symbol of unity, justice, and a warm snuggly feeling inside. So Happy Lee-Jackson-King Day everybody.
Oh, and I notice my research into the origins of this Holiday has been plagiarized over at Wikipedia. Oh well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.