Last Thursday morning as I journeyed to the daily grind, if you told me that the day would end in a three-day weekend thanks to a new state holiday, it would have actually made perfect sense given the ever-changing and bizarre daily news’ milieu.
It was welcomed news without pretense.
As word spread of this “new” holiday, the ensuing email procession informed an initially incredulous workforce that “Juneteenth” is the annual observance of the liberation of the last enslaved African-Americans on June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas. It took two years for the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to finally reach those still enslaved in the deepest parts of the former Confederacy.
In contrast, today we grumble if our internet service is down for two minutes.
At that time it was believed the proclamation was finalized sometime between June 13th and 19th, hence the name, Juneteenth, entered the American lexicon. It was, however, not the end of slavery as that wouldn’t officially occur until December 6, 1865 with the ratification of the Constitution’s 13th Amendment.
Since 1866, Juneteenth is referred to as the second independence day. Texas became the first state, in 1980, to declare it a holiday with every state except Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota now recognizing the day, which most likely received more attention than ever before following the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd.
Prior to June 18th, Juneteenth remained unknown not only among whites, but plenty of blacks, too. Everyone I spoke with that Thursday, white or black was unfamiliar with its name or history. In reality, Juneteenth was the collective culmination of men and women across racial, religious and social lines that put an end to an abysmal historical practice on our shores.
History cannot be expunged, but we certainly can be ignorant of it as we are witnessing such behavior daily with the reckless destruction of historical monuments that resonates like the Nazi book burnings. Those who attempt to remove what they believe to be debauched history, lose more than the distinguished symbols of the past – they lose the opportunity for future generations to learn from it.
Attempting to sanitize history by using the moral standards of today as benchmarks by which to judge past behavior is a fool’s errand. They should stand as reminders of the existential threat of what divisiveness and racism represent to the health of our republic.
The Nazi concentration camps that slaughtered millions remain, and for good reason. They are a continuous reminder of humankind’s inhumanity. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower made sure the camps were extensively photographed and documented, so that forgetting would not be an option.
From the genesis of human history unjust war, murder and discriminatory mayhem inhabits our fallen social landscape and no matter who tries to erase the past, it does not change the facts or any chronological accomplishments.
The looters, rioters, arsonists and their revisionist enablers, who are legion with their deep pockets, have been polishing their politically correct Orwellian rhetoric by redefining our words and who we are as a nation. With no faith, flag, allegiance, common heritage or traditions, they have no informed historical depth perception and in so doing fail to comprehend that all history matters, most especially one that acclaims liberty.
How can we trust our nation’s future to these woke, inept, and uneducated pillagers, who have never created, established or discovered anything; rather they tear down and deface statues and monuments of those who have?
Is it really so surprising that a generation that wasn’t admonished and received participation trophies for just showing up is still throwing temper tantrums in the public square?
Our republic can certainly learn a well-formed lesson from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address “… with malice toward none, with charity for all.” Understandably, the nation’s 16th chief executive recognized and appreciated the need for the vanquished to retain all of their history, while moving forward and putting the ugliness of slavery and a brutal civil war behind us.
In 1861, rebels wanted to dissolve the American nation.
The same holds true today.
Pandering to these marauders will not resolve anything, but it will move us even closer to an American version of Fahrenheit 451, or worse.