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Juneteenth celebrates end of slavery

The holiday marks event that helped create a modern United States

Juneteenth is a national holiday commemorating June 19, 1865, which is the day that Union troops entered Galveston, Texas, and declared that all the slaves in that state were at last free. That date is often considered the final end of slavery in the United States, although it took a constitutional amendment ratified later that year to truly eliminate it.

Clearly, Black Americans have the most emotional connection to Juneteenth, but people of every race are invited to join in celebrating a day which helped to create a modern United States in which no one thinks twice about things like having two Black justices on the Supreme Court or a Black man running for his party’s presidential nomination.

Juneteenth can be considered our country’s second Independence Day. It follows up on the patriotic and revolutionary promise of July 4, 1776, that all are created equal and are endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Commemorating Juneteenth is a way of recognizing that we are all humans worthy of respect and dignity.

In Fort Dodge, Juneteenth will be celebrated just a little bit later than its actual date. The Pleasant Valley Awareness Committee has planned a gathering for June 23 at the former Sunkissed Meadows Golf Course. It will begin at 2 p.m.

The focus of the event is fellowship. There will be lots of good food, some games and plenty of time for just sitting around, being neighborly and chatting. Former Councilman Terry Moehnke will be honored for his service and Charlene Washington will be recognized for chronicling local Black history for more than 50 years.

The group’s Juneteenth celebrations are generally held in H.C. Meriwether Park in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood. Because the basketball courts are being refurbished in the park, this year’s event has been moved a few blocks away to the golf course.

Everyone is welcome at the celebration. It doesn’t matter if you live in Pleasant Valley or not.

If you can’t make the celebration, at least take a moment to appreciate the meaning of Juneteenth.

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