Today, the House moves to establish June 19th as the “Juneteenth National Independence Day”, a national holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
June 19th marks the day Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas—in the heart of what is now the 14th Congressional District of Texas—to announce and enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.
On that day, General Gordon Granger delivered the news of President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation, which had abolished slavery more than two years before, on January 1, 1863.
The abolition of slavery was a key milestone toward fulfilling our Founders’ promise, underwritten by the self-evident truths of natural law, that all humans are created equal and enjoy the same protections under the law.
Ingrained in Texas culture, this special day has already been recognized in 47 of the 50 United States and is long overdue to be recognized as a federal holiday.
This year’s celebration should be rooted in the works of repair we have done—and will continue to do—as a country that has endured periods of racial tension, which have tried to divide our people.
As President Lincoln notably said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Our country can and should unite, looking beyond the divisions we have faced.
The forces that try to divide our nation will not prevail, as we stand firm in our identity as Americans, a people refined through the fires of trial and made stronger each time.
Juneteenth reminds us of the freedom so bravely defended by many, many Americans, and it encourages us to remain steadfast in the good fight against division.
A house divided cannot stand, but a house united stands unshakable.
Mr. Speaker this is another step toward that unification.
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