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COMMUNITY NOTES: The Season of Celebration

By Phillip Knighten, Charles City Council

Summertime is here, and with that comes many occasions to celebrate. High school seniors celebrate completion of a long 13-year period of study as they prepare to enter the world of adulthood and responsibility. Citizens nationwide celebrate Memorial Day with a tribute to those military veterans that no longer dwell on this Earth among us.

Then comes Juneteeth, also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, or Juneteenth Independence Day. It is a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, annually celebrated on June 19th. The combination of the word June and Nineteenth is where the holiday’s nickname stems from.

Juneteenth was first celebrated in Galveston, Texas, on June 19th, 1866. This celebration stemmed from the day African Americans first learned about the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued two years prior. The first celebration consisted of prayer meetings, singing of Negro spirituals, and wearing clothing that signified the newfound freedom for African Americans.

As the years have passed, this celebration has become widespread throughout the United States, making it an annual tradition within most African American communities.

Independence Day is the next day of celebration. Falling on July 4th, Independence Day commemorates the implementation of the Declaration of Independence, signed by all 13 colonies that marked the beginning of the United States Independence from British rule. 2024 marks 248 years of declared independence since 1776.

Across the nation, we celebrate with parades, cookouts, picnics, carnivals, hot dog-eating contests and, of course, fireworks. Families, friends, colleagues and communities come together as one, united in this tribute back to the official timestamp of the begin of the United States of America.

The final holiday of the season is Labor Day. It always occurs on the first Monday in September. Labor Day, passed into law by Congress in 1894, was implemented to honor the nation’s workers and their contributions to the well-being of the country. Celebrations include parades, barbeques, picnics, and long weekend getaways. The holiday, for many, also signals the end of summer. In many communities, the trend is to never wear white after Labor Day.

The common denominator of all of these holidays is a change in the treatment of a group or type of people.

Juneteeth provided freedom for Black Americans, Independence Day provided relief to the American people from the tyranny of the British government. Labor Day was passed into law by the United States Congress after many years of protests by the American labor force about their working conditions.

Good things usually happen when human beings treat each other with respect and fairness.

So, when you sit down to eat some good grub for the Juneteeth barbeque, or watch in awe at the magnificent fireworks display, just think about the struggle that brought about these good times you are spending with family and friends.

Whether you are drinking a cold beer, a glass of lemonade or slurping on an ice-cold snow cone, make sure you send cheers out to those that came before us and made the opportunities to celebrate possible.

“Celebrate Good Times, Come On!” (Kool & the Gang)

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