Juneteenth, Freedom Day, represents American ideals

The taste of freedom was a long time in coming as the true cost of freedom comes quite high, and more often than not it comes only after that price is fully paid. The incredible victory of Freedom is always powerful.

Emancipation Day parade in Richmond, Virginia, 1905. (Public domain photo from VCU archive, via Wikipedia entry on "Juneteenth.")

SAN JOSE, June 19, 2015 – Today is the day that is traditionally set aside for celebrations of freedom known as “Juneteenth,” also known as “Emancipation Day” or “Freedom Day.” It is definitely a holiday that deserves a more substantial place in America’s history. Although known primarily as a day of celebration for the emancipation of the slaves, it should be is a day to celebrate everyone’s freedom – not just for black Americans, but for all Americans. Yet this day has been marred in the past two years by incredible acts of evil that temper the actual celebrations of Freedom Day.

The horrendous act of terrorism that took the lives of 49 innocent people this past week in Orlando, Florida, shocked the nation and the world. It also conjured up another act of evil that took place almost a year ago in South Carolina – the mass murder of the nine fine people in a Charleston, South Carolina church. The irony in the more recent instance of the expression of hatred and destruction is that the public outcry against the seeming symbol or source of such destruction is fragmented and distorted by the mainstream media.

Sadly, such acts of evil often reveal the true nature of a nation. Today, from the President of  the United States, down to local Democrat politicians, the issue seems to revolve around gun-related violence, and it is used as a way to attack the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. This was a similar reaction by the Democrats to the shooting in South Carolina a year ago.

To be honest, both acts of mass murder are actions intended to destroy the fabric of the United States of America. The racism on display in the killing of the nine Christians, and the religious extremism of a radical Islamist sympathizer both are demonstrations of hatred directed at innocent human beings that do not represent American ideals. The real problem is that the ideals inherent in the Declaration of Independence are only casually comprehended by an American public today. The proof of that is the lack of comprehension and the confusion over U.S. history – especially regarding the reasons the American Civil War was even fought.

Amazingly, the day after the shooting in South Carolina in 2015, propagandists of various stripes came out of the shadows to counter the concerns that the Confederate Flag had to be removed from display on government buildings. This year, the removal of Confederate Flags on public display continues to drive Confederate sympathizers crazy. The more controversial issue of Confederate Flag removal came from Gov. Tom Wolf who ordered the flag taken down in a display after it had been removed by Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, a Philadelphia Democrat, after she had taken the flag down and it had been replaced by the Capitol police.

Rep. Brown, who heads the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, said “I just did what I thought was right and I took the flag down.”

Nevertheless, the removal of Confederate Flags from government buildings, and the reassessment of the public display removal of Confederate Flags, continues to bring out efforts of Confederate sympathizers who want to re-write U.S. history. On a post in response to an article in the Communities Digital news by William Brute Bradford that was posted on December 15, 2015, a reader wrote:

America did not have a first civil war… The War Between the States was a War of Succession: the South fought to secede from the union, to get away from the oppressive central government, controlled by the North. When the South announced secession the North invaded the South and  the War of Succession was on.

Despite what contemporary, close-minded Confederate die-hards and ignorant YouTube-educated individuals would like to have people believe, the Civil War was fought because the white Southern aristocracy was more than willing to engage the North with their ill-informed, or brainwashed armies in order to hold on to their long-held, perceived “right of ownership” of human beings. The Civil War may have been initially about fighting to hold on to the Union because of the group of rebellious states, primarily controlled by the big money, slave-owning aristocrats (who happened to be Democrats), decided to destroy the Constitution of the United States by taking away Federal property that essentially belonged to all of the people of the United States, in order to retain ownership of property that would no longer be accepted by a humane society.

Yet today, there are Libertarians, Leftists, Confederate die-hards, and even Progressive-revisionist historians who would like to fragment, distort, and obscure American history from the people – especially the realities regarding the American Civil War. Those in the Deep South, who defended their actions to create a new constitution and the Confederate States, knew why they had initiated war. At the time of the organization of the Confederate States, the newly elected officials proclaimed their values and expressed their ideals opposite to what the United States of America represented in the foundational documents: The Declaration of independence and the U.S. Constitution.

At the time of the construction of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, the President of the C.S.A. stated that all men were not equal. The Vice President of the C.S.A., Alexander Stephens, proclaimed that there was “scientific proof” that the black man was not equal to the white man. Such Confederate political leaders came out of the closet to show their true colors because they were no longer afraid to boldly proclaim what they truly believed. This is why Juneteenth, Freedom Day, Emancipation Day is such an incredibly powerful day.

Celebrations of Juneteenth continue to honor the day in June of 1865 that the majority of slaves realized their freedom for the very first time in American history. That day offered hope for blacks who had been treated as less than human for their entire lives up to that point. At one point in America’s history, slavery was considered “normal” by the white power structure.

President Abraham Lincoln, as well as any POTUS, as well as all Federal government officials, are especially tasked to “…preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Lincoln not only faced a Constitutional crisis of exponential proportions, he faced the potential destruction of the United States of America – but even more essentially, he face the potential destruction of the fundamental values upon which the Union was created. He did what he needed to do to uphold his oath of office – much more than one can say about the current occupant of the White House.

A question that needs to be asked at this point as to whether genuine leadership exists within the contemporary American political spectrum to help in healing the horrors associated with crimes resulting from deep-seated hatred based on racial bigotry or religious intolerance, or even outright declared warfare against the American people.

The two centuries of slavery in America (160 years of that period under British Imperial law), came to an end because an American president stood up to the old entrenched white power structure within the aristocracy of the Democrat Party, which was determined to retain control over their regional institutions that legalized ownership of human beings. A morally strong and stubborn American president stood up to help Americans return to the deep-seated American values of God-given rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Lofty ideals are quite hard to live up to and hard to live by. This is not a hard concept to understand intellectually, but it is a hard concept to actualize. The taste of freedom was a long time in coming as the true cost of freedom comes quite high, and more often than not it comes only after that price is fully paid. The incredible victory over slavery was powerful.

President Lincoln understood that America had been founded as a nation dedicated to freedom; but the existence and toleration of slavery meant that the ideals of the Founders had yet to be fulfilled. The Founders had only managed to create the foundation for the Land of the Free; they had managed to plant the seeds for freedom to grow and mature. So it is that each generation of Americans are challenged to tend to the further development of the Land of the Free. It is the continual challenge of a nation conceived in Liberty to continue to develop and further such ideals or lose recognition of their value.

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Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member at West Valley College in California. He currently writes a column on US history and one on American freedom for the Communities Digital News, as well as writing for other online publications. During the 2016 presidential primaries, he worked as the leader of a network of writers, bloggers, and editors who promoted the candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. He founded the “We the People” Network of writers and the Citizen Sentinels Project to pro-actively promote the values and principles established at the founding of the United States, and to discover and support more morally centered citizen-candidates who sincerely seek election as public servants, not politicians.