KENNESAW, Ga. -- It's probably fair to say that most people consider the day after Thanksgiving to be a state holiday. In Georgia, that holiday has a name: Robert E. Lee's birthday.

"It sounds like a nice holiday. It should be publicized more maybe," said Jenny Crockett-Riddle of metro Atlanta, who spent the day at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.

Robert E. Lee was a military paradox -- a general whose reputation actually grew following his surrender at the close of the civil war.

"Even in the losing, (Lee) still maintained the admiration, respect and so forth of the soldiers who served under him," said Willie Ray "Swampy" Johnson, historian at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. "He represented the best of the lost cause."

In 2011, Governor Nathan Deal issued a memo ordering state offices closed the day after Thanksgiving to observe Robert E. Lee's birthday. At Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, the holiday brought in huge crowds who nonetheless largely overlooked the occasion.

"General Lee? Well, he was a traitor," said Pax Riddle, who was visiting from Pennsylvania.

Ryan Farley said it would be worthwhile to celebrate Lee's birthday "because he lost."

"He was a major part in why we are what we are today," Farley said.

Robert E. Lee's birthday isn't actually the day after Thanksgiving. Lee's birthday was in January. The state simply moved it to a more convenient time.

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