The letter written by Jacqueline C. Jones (Morning News, June 18) about the history behind and the meaning of Juneteenth, the day of celebration of the physical emancipation of the slaves in the United States, is a very enlightening and eloquently composed letter, and I appreciate its publication in the Morning News.
She does make one statement in her letter about which I will make comment. In referring to July 4, 1776, the writer states, “That day was not a day of independence for slaves, so, being the descendent of slaves, I did not and do not recognize that holiday”.
Since July 4th is celebrated as the day of the birth of this nation, why does the writer not celebrate it? Over 600,000 Americans died in the struggle that lead to the emancipation, roughly half of whom were Union soldiers or supporters. Many African-Americans fought for their country as members of the U.S. Colored Troops during that war.
Others subsequently honored the nation and distinguished themselves as heroes in both world wars (e.g., the Tuskegee Airmen and many others). No doubt these brave individuals felt that they had something to prove, but they risked their lives in service of the very nation that was born on July 4, 1776.
Many other African Americans have contributed mightily to the betterment of their country over the years. This nation, which has evolved, which has passed sweeping civil rights legislation and which has healed immensely from many of its past sins, is your nation as well as mine.
Despite the racial unrest that we are witnessing currently, I sincerely believe that there is much more racial harmony now, among everyday people, in our nation, than there ever was in the days of my youth. And I do believe that we as citizens owe a debt of gratitude to the country that was born on July 4, 1776.