Sen. Begich’s Statement for Juneteenth 2012
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich released the following statement for Juneteenth 2012. Juneteenth is recognized on June 19, but many celebrations are planned for the upcoming weekend.
“Each summer, Alaskans across the state celebrate Juneteenth, commemorating the day in June 1865 when the slaves of Galveston, Texas, were freed, nearly two and a half years after emancipation was declared by President Abraham Lincoln.
“Over the years Juneteenth has become a celebration of history, progress, and education. It is an Independence Day, when the realization of freedom for all American citizens is celebrated.
“The history of the United States and Alaska is one of diversity. Our children benefit from the presence of multiple cultures and traditions that make our society rich. The modernization of Alaska would not have been possible without the African Americans who played an influential role in its development.
“For example, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the construction of the Alaska-Canada Highway, called the Alcan. The African American Army of Corps of Engineers units that helped build the road are credited with the beginning of the integration of the U.S. Army.
“Juneteenth is a day to remember the men and women who made contributions to the betterment of our nation and state and by remembering our past; we better understand it and find motivation to meet future challenges.
“Progress does not come from passivity. It comes from people who are active, educated and willing to work for improvement.
“While we enjoy all the food, music, games and parades at Junetheenth events, we must not lose sight of the importance of education and improvement that Juneteenth emphasizes.”