Sons of Confederate Veterans celebrate Confederate Memorial Day

Published: Apr. 24, 2017 at 11:59 PM EDT
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Days after Charlottesville City Council

the controversial Robert E. Lee statue in Lee Park, the Sons of Confederate Veterans chose to remember its history in the Shenandoah Valley on 'Confederate Memorial Day.'

Confederate Memorial Day is a

to commemorate the estimated 258,000 members of the Confederate States Army, Navy, Marines, and militia who died during the Civil War while fighting for Southern states that tried to secede from the U.S.

The Confederate military surrendered in April 1865.

In Alabama and Mississippi, state government offices closed in observance of the day. But in Virginia, it was celebrated on a more local level.

The public got a history lesson on a local group of confederate soldiers called the Brocks Gap Rifle Company: a part of Turner Ashby’s 7th Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War, whose captain is widely considered one of the founding fathers of the town of Broadway.

A memorial service was also held in the Confederate section of Woodbine Cemetery in Harrisonburg.

Historian Steve Lee Ritchie says Virginians shouldn't be ashamed of their heritage.

"There's so much rich heritage here, and so much to be proud of," Ritchie said. "People are proud of being Virginians. But very often they don't know why. They don't understand the reasons why. It's great they're proud, but they should know more details about the reason for that pride."

The Sons of Confederate Veterans meet every month in Rockingham County.

The organization is also one of the main groups behind a

to halt the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.

New Orleans marked Confederate Memorial Day with the

in the city associated with the Confederate States of America or post-war white supremacist movements, like the one remembered by the Liberty Place monument, which was taken down on Monday.