Juneteenth: Emancipation for Humanity

Slavery, Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham , Juneteenth

Image Source: North Amarillo Now

Slavery has remained one of the darkest clouds in the history of the United States and in many parts of the world. Slaves were not even considered people, but property like cattle. The Emancipation Proclamation was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. This proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states (more than 3 million enslaved people in designated areas of the South) “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Also known as Freedom Day and Emancipation Day, Juneteenth commemorates the day Union General Gordon Granger along with 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas (a rebellious state) to take possession of the state in order to enforce the emancipation of its slaves.

I always wondered whether the last line of the poem, Defence of Fort M’Henry written in 1814 by poet Francis Scott Key, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave (better known in our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner) had any significance behind the writing and execution of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863? There are many resources for learning about the historical influences behind Juneteenth. You can find out more about this holiday and how it is celebrated 152 years later around the country, by visiting Juneteenth.com.

Happy Juneteenth!

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A Tower of Lincoln Books for President’s Day!

Today is President’s Day, which also commonly referred to as Washington’s Birthday. This federal holiday is observed on the third Monday in February to honor the first President and all of the other Commanders-in-Chief of the United States of America.

I came across this amazing piece of artwork called A Tower of Lincoln Books. The Ford Theater in Washington, DC (which is where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated) now poses as a National Historic Site that features a 34-foot tower of books written only about Honest Abe.

While there are about 15, 000 books said to have been written about Abraham Lincoln, there are only 7,000 books in the tower.  Why destroy 7,000 books? Well, they were not destroyed. The book tower is constructed of aluminum, which is imprinted with copies of book covers about the President.

Celebrating Presidents Day!

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.” -Thomas Jefferson

President’s Day is a celebratory time set aside to honor all of our U.S. Presidents. Normally Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are symbolically identified with this occasion, since both of their birthdays fell within a short time of each other during the month of February. George Washington was initially linked to the formation of Presidents Day.

“I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.” -Abraham Lincoln

Prior to 1968, this fact did not seem to bother anyone and things were running along smoothly in the birthday celebration department. February 22nd was observed as a federal public holiday to honor the birthday of George Washington and February 12th was observed as a public holiday (in most states) to honor the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

However, in 1968, the 90th Congress was determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays, so they voted to shift three existing holidays (including Washington’s Birthday) to Mondays. The law took effect in 1971. As a result, Washington’s Birthday holiday was changed from its fixed February 22 date to the third Monday in February. This change was not without controversy. There was some concern that Washington’s identity would be lost (since the third Monday in February would never fall on his birth date of February 22nd). Since 1968, President’s Day is celebrated on the third Monday in February when we pay tribute to every individual who served in the office of President of the United States of America.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”. -John F. Kennedy

We are blessed to have the freedom in this country to vote in a democracy where we have the ability to select the candidate we wish to see in office. Although many people do not hold some of our Commanders-in-Chief in the same high esteem, there is no doubt that regardless of our political affiliations or views, our country is not governed by a dictatorship. Thank God for that! Sometimes we tend to take the freedoms we are able to enjoy for granted; freedoms that other countries would only dream about experiencing. We must be mindful that although we have the freedom of speech, we must not allow our tongues to defile our character and spirits. Just because you have the right to speak what is on your mind, does not mean that it is always appropriate or necessary.

So, on this Presidents Day, let us take a moment to reflect on what a great country we live in. May we never forget how blessed we are to be in a nation where we have the opportunity to soar beyond our wildest dreams and where people, no matter what race, creed or gender you are, can get an education and practice their religion without suffering cruel consequences. Let us also take this moment, to salute our military men and women, along with their families. It is because of them, that the freedoms we enjoy every day, is protected.

“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. … Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” -Barack Obama

Hail to the Chief!