(CNN) - For the first time in eight years, Virginia's Republican governor has issued a proclamation declaring April as Confederate History Month in the state, drawing criticism from Democrats and a civil rights group.
"It is important for all Virginians to reflect upon our Commonwealth's shared history, to understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War, and to recognize how our history has led to our present," Gov. Robert McDonnell's seven-paragraph proclamation reads in part.
He quietly made the declaration after two previous Democratic administrations refused to do so.
"This defining chapter in Virginia's history should not be forgotten, but instead should be studied, understood and remembered by all Virginians," the governor's proclamation reads.
It does not mention slavery.
"I wish he would have followed the examples of Gov. [Mark] Warner and Gov. [Tim] Kaine, but obviously he has declined to do so," state Sen. Don McEachin, a Democrat, told CNN affiliate WWBT. "I also find it interesting that while he issues his proclamation, there's no mention of slavery."
The Virginia chapter of the NAACP also condemned the proclamation, The Washington Post reported. The group did not immediately return phone calls to CNN.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans asked the governor to declare the month Confederate History Month. Virginia seceded from the union on April 17, 1861.
Brandon Dorsey, a spokesman for the group, told CNN Radio that Confederate History Month isn't about slavery or race, but about studying the 4-year history of the Confederacy. He said it will also help draw visitors to the many Civil War battle sites in Virginia, helping to boost tourism.
"The proclamation's main goal is to call attention to the fact that there is Confederate history in the state of Virginia, of course, across the South. It's simply a tool to expose individuals to that history. It's not a mandate in any way. It's a symbolic gesture."
He said the group doesn't consider the history of the Confederacy or Virginia's Confederate History Month racially divisive. "It's not meant to discriminate against anybody," he said.
He said that the Confederacy wasn't about continuing the institution of slavery, but that it was really about the states' rights vs. the rights of the federal government. He said there were abolitionists in the group.
Other Southern states have issued similar proclamations for April. In Alabama, Republican Gov. Bob Riley declared April, the month the Civil War began, as Confederate History and Heritage Month. The statement condemns slavery.
McDonnell as proven himself short on GOD-given Wisdom.
It's about time someone stepped up and allowed our side to celebrate
The black activists deemed the confederacy racist but it's not.
It's about separation of state from government, which our government
sucks by the way.
No other nationality is held back from celebrating their heritage.
You never here the Sons of the Confederacy slamming other nationalities.
It's all about the pride we carry for OUR heritage and no one will ever
take that away!!!
Y'all come back now, ya hear!
I thank GOD for being on the side of the Union.
150 years since the American Civil War and the hearts of the Confederates (and their offspring) are as stubborn & vile today, as when southern states seceded from the Union.
GOD'S will was done, and the Union Army was the tool used by GOD to implement HIS will.
I bet he is saving his Confederate money. These right wings clearly want to take us back about 200 years. They are still hoping for a return to the glory days when they were plantation owners and all the rest of us were in our "proper place."
I think it's a shame how this country turns everything into a racial issue. Confederate lives were lost fighting for the state of Virginia- just like many Union soldiers and African American soldiers' lives were lost during that terrible war. It is true that the Civil War was caused by NUMEROUS issues, not just slavery. I'm not saying that slavery isn't horrible and a factor...but I don't see why it's so wrong to honor the soldiers. The Confederate soldier was a person, too, as well as an important part of the state's history and culture.
P.S. In case you didn't know, there were also a large number of African Americans fighting in the Confederate army.
Why are we dedicating a month to the memory of traitors who almost succeeded in overthrowing the US government? Benedict Arnold is considered a traitor and so are confederate soldiers and members of the confederate government.
it's about time Virginia show appreciation for the blood shed and the courage of the confederate soldiers and ordinary citizens who lived in the south during the Civil War. The war was a terrible thing but was even more terrible for people living in the south. They fought and died for their beliefs. Most true southerners were raised to respect their ancestors. The war did not begin because of slavery but because of states rights, but most of the people who made posts here are ignorant of this fact. Believe it or not there were many blacks who fought for the Confederacy. I'm not from Virginia, but from Texas. We celebrate Confederate Hero's day in Texas every year, it coincides with Martin Luther King day. I'm from a small town in Texas and my ancestors fought and died for the rights of Texas, not for slaves. They simply fought for their country. To be so overly outmanned and outnumbered they fought valiantly. I love the United States but fact is the Confederacy had as much a right to declare secession as the United States had a right to declare independence from England.
Virginians will BOW down to the people who want to hide real history once again.
There is absolutely no legitimate reason for any governmental entity state , national or local, to declare a "holiday" honoring confederates or the confederacy. One has only to look at historical documentation declaring reasons for secession (becoming confederates) by the various states to come to this conclusion. In Texas for example, the Texas secession document states emphatically that they intend to keep Africans enslaved perpetually. I would also look at early historical documents from the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy to uncover their blatantly racist beginnings.
Honoring the south and it's traditions (minus it's history of slavery and racism , and support of the confederacty is not objectionable)
So the blacks have black history MONTH! but the is a fuss about this confederate history day? My family is from Tennessee and im proud of them and there attempts to overtake the Union look at the country today god bless the south !
The Governor says the war "should be studied, understood and remembered." He doesn' say anything about glorifying the Confederates part in the Civil War. To me it makes sense that the most important event to ever happen in the history of Virginia and to which Virginia played such an important roll in should be studied. By the way both Lincoln and Grant were Republicans.
I am very disappointed that McDonnell allowed this law to be passed. I'm all for Celebrating "Civil War History", but celebrating the Confederacy is wrong.
The South lost because God ordained it. God's will was to break the "ideology" and "mindset" of the Confederacy. Just like the Nazi's their regime eventually came to an end...
Virginia and the south should celebrate and recognize the Civil War soldier, but, celebrating the Confederacy has got to go. Again, you lost because GOD ORDAINED IT...SO GET OVER IT!
At one point, I thought Virginia was changing, and progressing towards a better Union, but, I guess I'm wrong.