USAG Okinawa prepares to celebrate Juneteenth as a community

By Natalie Stanley, U.S. Army Garrison Okinawa Public AffairsMay 22, 2024

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

TORII STATION, Okinawa – U.S. Army Garrison Okinawa is preparing to open the gates of Torii Station once again for an open-post event, this time in celebration of Juneteenth. The event will be held Saturday, June 22 from 12 to 6 p.m.

Open-post events are an opportunity for service members, Department of Defense civilians and family members to share time and their installation with the local community. This event is also a chance for USAG Okinawa to celebrate Juneteenth and share the importance of this holiday with the community.

“By celebrating Juneteenth, we foster connections and share the American story of healing and revitalization,” said Robert Chesser, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program specialist. “By sharing this with the community, we exemplify the work in progress of the American Dream, our values and the collective fight for social justice and racial equality for everyone.”

Juneteenth, officially known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, holds significance importance in the United States as it celebrates the end of slavery and freedom for Black Americans.

The holiday’s name is derived from the combination of “June” and “nineteenth,” signifying the date when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas after the conclusion of the American Civil War.

On June 19, 1865 — over two years after President Abraham Lincoln declared enslaved persons free — Granger and Union Army troops marched into Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. They freed over 250,000 Black Americans, the last enslaved people in Texas.

USAG Okinawa’s Juneteenth celebration aims to foster unity, inclusivity, and shared responsibility among communities. The event will include food vendors, live entertainment, and family-friendly activities along with a special Juneteenth educational element.

“The celebration is about participation and Torii Station will do just that through family fun competitions, song, dance, and speeches with the goal of enhancing community connections between the DOD and local Japanese community,” said Franchon Blanche, Torii Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s outdoor recreation program manager. “This is an opportunity to take time and learn more about the experiences of fellow Americans whose lives may have been very different from our own and to consider how each of us can be an active participant in moving America forward.”

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