Grissom Celebrates Juneteenth

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexis Morris
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

On the evening of Friday, June 9, approximately 100 Airmen from across Grissom gathered to celebrate Juneteenth during the extended, primary unit training assembly.

Although there are still many misconceptions about the observance of the holiday, first celebrated in the late 1800s, the inaugural event for the base provided Airmen at Grissom with a unique opportunity to educate the base community about Juneteenth within a welcoming, celebratory environment.

Master Sgt. Elizabeth Majors, 434th Air Refueling Wing religious affairs superintendent and Master Sgt. Linda Stovall, 434th Force Support Squadron force management non-commissioned officer in-charge, coordinated the event.

“For me, if you watch and see the interaction, I think people were really glad to be there and happy that we provided them with that space,” said Majors. “I’ve seen the need to plan an event like this, and then to witness it, to see the appreciation, I was glowing from the inside out.”

Also referred to as Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day or Freedom Day, Juneteenth recognizes the day – June 19, 1865 – that Major General Gordon Granger led a military force to Galveston, Texas and issued General Order No. 3 which iterated that “ALL SLAVES ARE FREE. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, become that between employer and hired labor.”

Although President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 to free all slaves living in the Confederate states, it was only through the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that the executive order became national policy. Despite this enactment, there were still nearly 250,000 individuals enslaved across various Confederate states when Granger arrived in Galveston to deliver General Order No. 3.

Today, Juneteenth is recognized as a federal holiday and symbolically represents the end of slavery in the United States.  Majors and Stovall said they are looking forward to future iterations of the festivities.

“When we do this again next year, our crowd should be double,” said Majors. “The reason that the Juneteenth flag is red, white, and blue is because it represents the American flag. It is a reminder that all slaves and descendants were, and are, American.”