Eglin celebrates Juneteenth

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gaddie
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A Juneteenth National Independence Day observance was held here June 14.  This year’s theme is “Discovering Our Roots.”

The day is set aside to commemorate the end of enslavement in the United States.  Juneteenth recognizes the accomplishments of enslaved African Americans and their many contributions to the nation.

Sabu Williams, Okaloosa County NAACP branch president, Air Force veteran and retired civil servant, was the guest speaker.

Williams said the official end of slavery happened June 19, 1865, when the Emancipation Proclamation was read to enslaved blacks in Galveston, Texas.  Texas was the last Confederate state to surrender to the Union Army.

“June 19 was marked as Emancipation Day for our ancestors,” he said.

President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on June 17, 2021, making June 19 a national holiday.

Williams encouraged the audience to become storytellers to their children and grandchildren, and to encourage them to do the same.

“Discovering our roots, is defined as ‘to reveal, find out, to learn of the existence of the close ties one has with some place or people,’” he said.  “As formerly enslaved people, we’ve always known of our African heritage.  We are descendants of warriors, kings, queens and people of great intellect.  It is our ties to our forefathers and mothers whose resilience through great trials and tribulations, that have made us who we are today.  Take the time to know your family tree; you might be surprised to discover the kind of fruit it bears.” 

Col. Reza Gregorian, 96th Test Wing vice commander, gave closing remarks. 

“Juneteenth shows us the value of never giving up hope,” he said.  “There is still much work to be done.  The different perspectives and experiences of each of our Airmen and Guardians make us best postured to solve the complex challenges we face today and in future generations.  It is imperative that we recognize, respect and understand the different perspectives each Airman and Guardian bring to the fight.”