Give peace a chance
Saturday was a great day for DeKalb, and for Bowie County, as hundreds showed up to celebrate Juneteenth.
The parade was one of the longest I have ever seen around here. Cars, trucks, floats, horses and a lot of happy folks lined up to celebrate the day and spread a little sunshine. After the parade those same crowds went down to the park to enjoy some good ol’ home cookin’ and some great fellowship.
The parade, and the ensuing revelry was to mark one the brightest days in Texas, and United States history, as Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 of that year that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed on the Texas Gulf coast at Galveston and announced that the war had ended and that the slavery had ended.
Granger read that day, “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
More than 150 years after that great day, we celebrate that announcement, all the while recognizing that we as Americans still have a long way to go as far as become equal and united.
Yes, we somehow find ways to put aside our differences when tragedy strikes. I remember fondly the days after 9/11, not to recognize the horrible travesty that was handed to us all that day, but the way we all became one.
For just a little while.
Those were days that were at the same time some of our worst, and some of our best as a country. Back in the days after the Twin Towers fell it was so much harder to see our differences. Neighbors became brothers, strangers became friends, and we all became proud to be an American. We were truly a “United” States.
Then, we forgot.
Time passed and the old wounds opened up. Younger generations came along that did not feel the pain of 9/11, but only the sting of hate, the bitterness of prejudice, and the rage of injustice. In many ways we have separated ourselves on so many fronts that a more accurate moniker for our country might be the “Fractured” States of America.
No doubt, we have a lot of work to do. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has not yet come true.
As Juneteenth is a celebration of what King called, “a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity” just as he also said in that great speech in 1963, equality, true equality, has not reached us yet.
You can disagree with me if you like, and I know many will, that is one of my favorite things of being an American. Free speech is one of our inalienable rights.
But, is it still free anymore?
On that day in 1963, King had an answer to solve the gaps, the struggles and the discord. It was a simple answer, we just can’t seem to get there.
King said that faith was the key. He stated it as a key to the people he spoke to that day, and he called it the faith that would “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”
We all need that faith, and we need it today.
We need that faith in God, the only one who can bring real peace. We need that faith in each other, that will breed kindness and wash away the hate, injustice and malice. We need that faith that we really can attain the dream that King so eloquently preached on.
While sitting in a Birmingham, Alabama jail, some five months before his famous I Have A Dream speech, King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.”
That is such an interesting quote to me.
It’s interesting to me because of this next famous quote.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
That was also written by a man in jail. His name was Paul. Both men spoke the same message.