For many Texans Tuesday was the first day back after a long holiday weekend, but for some state employees, it was another day off, too.
Many state employees had the option of staying out of work because Tuesday, January 19 is Confederate Heroes Day.
Reduced staffing is probably at least somewhat to blame for the long lines at one Department of Public Safety’s Drivers License Office, according to an agency spokeswoman.
“I don’t have a problem with the holiday at all. It's just if they’re going to celebrate the holiday they may as well take the whole day off so were not standing out here waiting in lines,” said Melissa Cowans who was waiting in line.
Many state employees, including some at DPS, are allowed to take the day off to celebrate Confederate Heroes Day.
“This is also a symbol, its a symbol of resistance. In many ways it's a symbol of white racism -- it's much bigger than just a holiday,” said Austin NAACP president Nelson Linder. “By the way, what was so important about the Confederacy? It was a very divisive time in American history. What offended African Americans about it was slavery.”
Texas has memorialized confederate war dead on the south lawn of the Capitol for decades.
Marshall Davis, of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, say for him, least of all is this memorial about slavery.
“When the war was over, the winners, the Union, got to write the history books. And this new experiment about self government was turned into all-about-slavery,” Davis said. “I invite them to learn the true history of the War Between the States and the true history of the South. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics all fought for the southern cause in Texas.”
While this is a day set aside to remember soldiers killed in the Civil War, the Legislature has also set aside several other days throughout the year to remember a variety of other events.
In addition to Confederate Heroes Day, the state allows employees to take off on Texas Independence Day, San Jacinto Day, LBJ Day and a day set aside to commemorate the post-civil war emancipation of slaves in Texas.
That means even the occasional long lines and the persistent deep wounds likely won't go away anytime soon.
About a dozen other southern states also commemorate Confederate Heroes Day.