By Maj. Gen. Donna Martin and Command Sgt. Maj. James Breckinridge
Today, on June 19, we commemorate the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States known in short as “Juneteenth.” On June 19, 1865, Union Soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, to relay the message that formerly enslaved African Americans were now free.
The Civil War had ended over one month earlier, on May 9, 1865.
Two and a half years earlier, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation stated that all people enslaved in states rebelling against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
However, even after the war, skirmishes, scattered resistance and slavery continued in Texas, where there had been no large-scale fighting or a significant presence of Union troops.
In December 1865, slavery was outlawed by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Since then, our nation has undergone great periods of change to strive toward achieving the American dream.
We remember Juneteenth so the lessons of history can educate our nation, our military and our Team of Teams. This observance encourages all of us to consider the promises of freedom so we can continue working together toward an equitable future.
Today, we honor the generations of Americans whose unpaid labor and service built our nation. We also reaffirm our commitment to lead and inspire future generations to serve in an organization committed to recognizing, protecting and honoring the dignity and respect of all people.
We are proud to serve with you.
Victory Starts Here…Victory Through Skill!
(Editor’s note: Martin is the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general. Breckinridge is the MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major.)