Equalizing the Two Independence Days

Summary: Now that Juneteenth is a federal holiday, it is important that we give it the attention that we do the 4th. While I have the fondest memories of the 4th from my childhood, I am trying to balance out the importance I give to both holidays from now on. 

Both growing up and into adulthood, my three favorite holidays were Christmas, Easter, and the 4th of July. Until I was ten years old, I lived in Long Island, New York, and the city always had a grand celebration for the 4th at Eisenhower Park. As we sat atop a hill in the park, a huge stage stood in front of us with bands playing and food trucks all around. Although tickets were free, we had to get them at TD Bank- this trip to the bank was always one of the most exciting times of the year because I knew what lay ahead just a few weeks later. After moving to Florida, I tried to make the 4th special by going to the beach, eating summer staples, and watching the fireworks, but it never quite measured up to those Long Island days. 

Since Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021, I’ve tried to change my relationship with the 4th. While I’ve tried to give Juneteenth as much emphasis and celebration as what comes around two weeks later, it’s been difficult because of the waning effort from those around me. It’s never too late to make new traditions, and this is what leads to new norms evolving. I want to acknowledge that I am not at all saying to not celebrate the 4th or lessen your celebration of this day; rather, I am emphasizing the importance of giving attention to both of these independence days, as they are both crucial to United States history. 
To provide an analogy, in March, I went to Washington, D.C., and visited landmarks such as the Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln Memorials. I’ve been to D.C. three times in the past year with different people, and each group has wanted to see the monuments we grew up hearing about. This is completely normal, and would likely be on the agenda for any American visiting the capital for the first time. To balance out my trip, we also visited the National Museum of African History and attempted to visit the National Museum of African American History (sold out!). The key point here is that we still visited the national monuments and had a great time, but scheduled visits to places dedicated to our racial identity too. As we attempt to promote racial equity and reflect on history’s mistakes, challenge yourself to learn more about a history that may not be as celebrated! So, if you have huge plans for the 4th but nothing was planned for Juneteenth in 2024, try to add some programming to the schedule next year!