South Carolina state offices were closed Friday for Confederate Memorial Day, one of 13 paid state holidays, which is one more than most states have and three more than the federal government.
Most states have 12 paid holidays, while federal employees get 10. Georgia and North Carolina have 12, while Florida state employees get 9 plus one "personal" holiday. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the average private sector employee gets 9.3 paid holidays.
Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi are the only states besides South Carolina that have paid holidays for Confederate Memorial Day. Other states, like North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Florida and Louisiana celebrate Confederate Memorial Days but not as paid state days off.
The Confederate Memorial Day holiday is not necessarily the reason South Carolina has more paid holidays than most, though. South Carolina state employees also have paid holidays on the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. Those are not paid holidays for Georgia employees, but they do get Columbus Day off. They also get Robert E. Lee's birthday off, which is January 19th, but they don't take the day until the day after Thanksgiving.
On Confederate Memorial Day in Columbia, Marion Hutson stood at the Confederate Soldier Monument in front of the Statehouse. He was dressed in an authentic Confederate uniform. "This is a frock coat," he says. "It's real hot. It's all wool. They wore wool year-round."
With him were Charles and Susan Bray. Susan was wearing a Confederate-era mourning dress that she made herself, patterned after the one Vivien Leigh wore in the movie "Gone With the Wind."
There were more people than usual walking around the Statehouse because of graduation ceremonies at the University of South Carolina, and many of them would come have their pictures taken with Hutson and Bray, as Confederate flags placed around the monument flapped in the breeze.
Alexandria Cherry's family had come down from Spartanburg for her graduation. They didn't know it was Confederate Memorial Day, but Alexandria thinks it's a good idea for it to be a state holiday.
"It's great to have the time to come down and commemorate and kind of remember where we come from and what's still around and how things have kind of gotten to where they are today," she says.
Each paid state holiday costs taxpayers about $750,000, but Hutson says this one is worth it.
"This is South Carolina and we're the first Confederate state to secede from the Union. It's part of our heritage and it's something we should teach our children and grandchildren," he says.
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