To the editor:
The recognition of Juneteenth as a federal holiday does not take away any of the significance of the 4th of July. What Juneteenth celebrates is the final end of slavery and the promise that all people are created equal, regardless of skin color.
When the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, and had officially outlawed slavery in the Confederacy, including Texas, enforcement of the Proclamation generally relied upon the advancement of Union troops. At the time, Texas was the most remote state of the former Confederacy and had a low presence of Union troops as the Civil War came to an end. It is not unimaginable that it took two years between the Emancipation Proclamation and General Gordon Granger’s Union Army regiment arrival in Galveston, Texas. He announced the General Order No. 3, which states: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” Information and news took time to reach remote areas, and there was a low literacy rate among the general population of the United States.
The 4th of July celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the American Colonies formally breaking away from Great Britain. Juneteenth acknowledges the end of slavery and freedom for the enslaved. These are two different commemorations of independence in American history.