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NEWS | June 19, 2022

A letter to the troops about Juneteenth

By Andy Dickson, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Chief of the National Guard Bureau (CNGB) released a letter to Soldiers and Airmen through email and social media recognizing Juneteenth signed and dated on June 8, 2022.

In the letter, Gen. Daniel Hokanson and Chief Master Sgt. Tony L. Whitehead, senior enlisted adviser to the National Guard Bureau, gave a brief history of the significance of the date and the occasion it celebrated.

The letter begins with Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger’s forces arriving in Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order by President Abraham Lincoln signed on Jan. 1, 1863, that ordered that all slaves in the states that have seceded from the Union were free.

The order also called upon the military and naval authorities to enforce the proclamation. It was in June of 1865 that the Union Army had finally been able to enforce the action in all rebellious states.

Lincoln’s authority for the executive order was under his power as the Commander-in-Chief under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution. During wartime, his orders to the militia was to enforce the proclamation as a means of suppressing the rebellion.

The order was limited only to states that had seceded from the Union.

Kentucky was one of the four slave states that never officially seceded. What that meant for the commonwealth was that slavery was not fully abolished until December 6, 1865, with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. While the state was split on the issues of slavery and the Civil War, it was ultimately the new amendment that officially ended slavery in Kentucky.

The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order by our Commander-in-Chief to economically hurt the Confederate states and simultaneously began the ending of slavery.

Lincoln, born in Hodgenville, Ky., issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the predecessor to the 13th Amendment. Lincoln began the legal process that made sure that millions of enslaved men, women and children were human beings, not property. This would come at a cost to the economy of his home state.

To echo the letter signed by Hokanson and Whitehead, use this Juneteenth to remember the people who were bought and sold that we now hold free.

Remember the Americans who fought and died to enforce the orders of our Commander-in-Chief as he made a difficult decision.

Recognize how our state and our nation has continued to develop to provide all people with the liberties and freedoms we have today.

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