Juneteenth is a reminder of history, struggle of equality

MICHAELIS-4.jpgby Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson Commanding General

This month on June 19, we celebrate Juneteenth, the nation’s newest federal holiday.

After President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, many enslaved people would remain in bondage for two and a half years. Even two months after the Confederacy surrendered at the Appomattox Courthouse, slavery persisted in Texas. That is, until Union forces arrived to enforce the Proclamation.

In Galveston on June 19, 1865, U.S. Army General Gordon Granger issued General Order Number Three statings: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive in the United States, all slaves are free.” Later in December, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified to abolish slavery throughout the United States.

The next year, Texas freedmen organized Jubilee Day celebrations on June 19, the first of what would become more than a century of yearly festivities, ultimately leading to Texas recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday and the U.S. declaring it a national holiday in 2021.

Juneteenth reminds us of our history, the struggle of many people, and the lingering effects on their descendants, freed only through what today seems like needless and unfortunate deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans.

But Juneteenth also reminds us of the progress we have seen throughout the history of our nation. It brings hope that we will always strive to expand the scope and promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to every American, regardless of skin color or heritage.

The power and ability to promise self-determination, and the strength to protect the American ideals, that’s what Fort Jackson and the Army provides. We are a force ready and willing to defeat the enemies of freedom, justice, and equality.

So, join us as we observe Juneteenth, a commemoration to the enslaved people that saw their shackles dissolved, a celebration of the Union victory, and a festival dedicated to good’s unrivaled ability to triumph over evil. Victory ... Starts Here.