Today we recognize, remember and celebrate, Juneteenth! The emancipation of slaves in Texas by Union Troops on June 19, 1865.
￼These lessons in history have been lost to some, celebrated by many but are important to all. Juneteenth represents our shared history. More importantly, it marks a milestone for African-Americans in the battle for freedom from bondage.
Juneteenth also gives us time to pause and reflect on the Emancipation Proclamation. This bold document gave moral force to the Union cause. From the signing of that document on January 1, 1863 forward, there was no question that ‘The War Between the States’ was about slavery. The Proclamation, although groundbreaking, was extremely limited. Orders are only as strong as having the means and willingness to enforce them. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in those two-and-a-half years between signing and full enforcement. Union states that allowed slavery were exempt. The 13th Amendment was still six months from ratification. Our history can not be glossed over. Our work is not done.
‘With malice toward none; with charity for all; ….let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to achieve and cherish a lasting peace among ourselves and with the world.’
-Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, April 10, 1865