Thursday, June 19, 2003

Juneteenth blog.

Been a spell of depressing subjects for blogging -- totalitarianism, the World Trade Center, homelessness in Japan. So today I'll take up something more optimistic. Holidays. Specifically, Juneteenth, since that's today, though I understand that most of the festivities occur on the Saturday nearest.

I think that Juneteenth ought to be a more cerebrated occasion, for three reasons. One would be the standard reason, namely that it's good to recognize the end of slavery in the United States. Secondly, I'm in favor of more holidays on general principles -- we don't have enough of them in North America, and we could always use more. More in the warm months especially. Even if it's not a legal holiday in any of the several states, but only an occasion for weekend festivals, outings, barbecues and the like, I'm for it. I'm glad that the Battle of Puebla happened on May 5 instead of December 5, and Stonewall Riot happened in June instead of February.

One more reason: Juneteenth is from Texas, where it became a state holiday in recent years, after the time that I lived there. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger, in command of the Union forces coming to occupy Texas after the collapse of the Confederacy, issued his General Order Number 3 in Galveston, which begins:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

A worthy occasion in the calendar. And I'm always glad when Texans can export something of value to the rest of the country.


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