The Civil War ended over 150 years ago in a farmhouse in Virginia with the union intact and nearly 700,000 American lives lost, but for many on both sides, the way we approach our history remains a difficult and uncomfortable question.

On April 1, Mississippi will tackle the issue head on with its observance of Confederate Heritage Month as proclaimed by Gov. Phil Bryant.

April is the month the war both began in 1861 and ended in 1865.

“It is important for Americans to gain insight from our mistakes and successes … and earnestly strive to understand and appreciate our heritage and our opportunities which lie before us.”

Although seven other southern states commemorate a Confederate Memorial Day, the announcement from Mississippi attracted national criticism coming in the midst of debate about the symbolism of the Confederate battle flag referred to as “The Stars and Bars” after photographs showing the white perpetrator of a mass shooting at a black church posing with the flag were discovered.

As schools and teachers grapple with the best way to present the issue to students in the classroom, a representative from the governor’s office acknowledged the delicate nature of the issue, telling reporters, “Gov. Bryant believes Mississippi’s history deserves study and reflection, no matter how unpleasant or complicated parts of it may be.”

One state senator, John Bulloch, compared the observance to black history month saying both provide opportunities to recognize important aspects of American history, adding that the month’s observances would be a boon to tourism, attracting Civil War buffs to historical sites.

While some Mississippians took exception to the idea in a small “Not my heritage” rally at the capitol in Jackson, Los Angeles activist, Nolan Hack, disagreed.

“I believe we should do a Mississippi heritage month so we can celebrate the good things about this state. The people are so nice down here. The food is amazing. There’s so much great history about the music, white and black activists. Let’s focus on that, not hate.”

Mississippi will observe Confederate Memorial Day on April 25.




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