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Juneteenth holiday celebrates freedom

Juneteenth graphic
Compiled by Samoa News staff

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Juneteenth holiday celebrates freedom by recognizing the historic events of June 19, 1865, which is the day that news of freedom traveled to the last known place practicing slavery in the United States. President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years before on New Year’s Day, 1863.

“On Juneteenth, we celebrate the cause of freedom for all, and honor these ideals,” said Congresswoman Uifa'atali Amata.

“Freedom prevailed in America, although for millions of people, it took nearly 90 years after the Declaration of Independence. Juneteenth is a yearly reminder that this country must always cherish freedom, and that message has a special emotional component for our African American countrymen and women, which we all come together to celebrate.

“Each generation becomes the next guardian of these ideals so that America can always stand for ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’.”

Juneteenth has been recognized and celebrated in American Samoa and since its inception, and as norm, all government offices will be closed and normal activities are suspended today.

“Employees required to perform duties on that day will receive holiday wages in accordance with applicable laws and regulations,” according to Governor P.S. Lemanu, who states that “Juneteenth Independence Day is a time to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

“I encourage you all to take time this weekend to remember our dark past and embrace the hope and progress that the present has brought us.

“We also honor all those who have died in pursuit of a more perfect union,” Lemanu concludes, thanking all for their hard work and dedication, and encouraging all to have a “safe” holiday.