Galveston County The Daily News
Juneteenth should be made national holiday

Galveston County
The Daily News

By Herber Taylor     June 19, 2010

For the past several years, The Daily News has been asking the president of the United States to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Juneteenth, of course, marks the day slaves in Texas learned they were free.

Those who are lobbying for a national holiday are not asking for a paid day off. They are asking for a commemorative day, like Flag Day on June 14 or Patriot Day on Sept. 11. All that would take is a presidential proclamation. Both the U.S. House and Senate have endorsed the idea.

Why is a national celebration for an event that occurred in Galveston and originally affected only those in a single state such a good idea?

Because Juneteenth has become a symbol of the end of slavery. No matter how much we may regret the tragedy of slavery and wish it werenít a part of this nationís story, it is. Denying the truth about the past is always unwise.

For those who donít know, Juneteenth started in Galveston. On Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. But the order was meaningless until it could be enforced. It wasnít until June 19, 1865 ó after the Confederacy had been defeated and Union troops landed in Galveston ó that the slaves in Texas were told they were free.

People all across the country get this story. Thatís why Juneteenth celebrations have been growing all across the country. The celebration started in Galveston. But its significance has come to be understood far, far beyond the island, and far beyond Texas.

The holiday is a perfect solution to that uncomfortable question: What do you do about an awful legacy?

You do what people in Galveston do year after year. You join together to celebrate its end and to pray for reconciliation and healing.

How can a national day of reconciliation and healing not be a good thing?


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