Most US Troops to Get Day Off Friday for New Juneteenth Holiday

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Juneteenth: Vigil for Healing event at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Kaiserslautern Military Community members sign a message board titled, “Listen, Reflect, Respond” following the Juneteenth: Vigil for Healing event at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, June 19, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

Most troops and other government employees have Friday off this week in observance of the newly created Juneteenth federal holiday, a Defense Department spokesperson told Military.com.

"The U.S. military will observe the Juneteenth National Independence Day as it observes every other federal holiday," a DoD spokesperson said in a statement. "Most of our people, uniformed and civilian, will have the day off. However, as we have forces deployed supporting missions around the country and around the world, some people will be working tomorrow."

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President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bill into law establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Because it falls on a Saturday this year, many federal employees, including the military, will have Friday off.

The bill sailed through Congress with little opposition, marking the conclusion of a years-long campaign by lawmakers and Black activists. While the Senate voted unanimously, 14 House Republicans voted against the bill.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers marched on Texas to enforce the emancipation of its slaves, two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves on Jan. 1, 1863.

Slavery was formally abolished in the U.S. when the 13th Amendment was enacted in December 1865.

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: How the US Military Helped Create the Juneteenth Holiday

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