SAN ANGELO, Texas — Goodfellow Air Force Base held an event to commemorate the Juneteenth holiday while also discussing how far Black people in the U.S. have come.
Speakers included Chaplain Samuel Jeudin, 17th Training Wing Retired MSgt Elixzine Kennedy (17th Force Support Squadron Manpower & Organization Flight Chief), Retired MSgt Alicia Wilder-Walters (17th Training Support Squadron Training Instructor), Retired CMSgt John Pope (Pastor at Galilee), and CMSgt Lauren Brock (17th Medical Group Senior Enlisted Leader).
Goodfellow’s deployment manager Willie Rouse and his team put this event together to jumpstart a Goodfellow tradition.
“We wanted to make sure that we made it a point to actually put something together and have an event to go ahead and commemorate this and make it so it's not just another day off, right? It actually kicked it off. Right. We want to go into the weekend knowing what we're doing it for,” Rouse shared.
Juneteenth is a federal holiday celebrated in the U.S. to commemorate the events of June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had ended and they were free.
“What really sets it off and really marks that as the day that we recognize is just the pure exuberance of the people who were there who at that point were not did not have citizenship and were not considered people at the time. They were free. They knew they were free. And they made it a point to recognize that day.” Rouse continued.
Lt. Col. Erwin Mason, 316th Training Squadron commander, has a personal tie to the Juneteenth holiday and says recognizing this holiday at Goodfellow will continue happening in the years to come.
“This is important to me because I took command on Juneteenth a year ago. The rollout was a little bit late on a notice, but we put it together and now that it's a federal holiday. As I look back at my time growing up in Oklahoma and my cousins in Texas and Arkansas and Louisiana, we talked about this. I never dreamed that it would be a federal holiday, that we're taking the time to recognize this at the federal level as outstanding.” Mason explained.
This was Goodfellow's first year having an event to commemorate Juneteenth, but they plan to do it every year moving forward.