Re-enactor Marvin-Alonzo Greer is shown during a Juneteenth celebration at the Atlanta Cyclorama and Civil War Museum, June 20, 2014.
Kent D. Johnson—AP Photo
By Gina Martinez
June 19, 2018

President Donald Trump issued a statement celebrating Juneteenth – the day slavery ended in Texas.

Trump’s statement commemorates the 153rd anniversary of Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arriving in Galveston. When he landed on June 19, 1865, Granger declared the end of the Civil War and issued a long-awaited order freeing the remaining enslaved people in Texas.

Although President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation signed two years earlier, those to whom it applied depended on the Union Army to enforce the order and free them. In his statement, Trump said Granger’s order was a major step in the nation’s effort to abolish slavery forever.

“This historic moment would not have been possible without the courage and sacrifice of the nearly 200,000 former enslaved and free African Americans who fought for liberty alongside more than 2 million Union servicemen,” Trump’s statement read. “These brave individuals fought to defend the God-given rights of those unjustly held in bondage.”

In 1997 Congress issued a joint resolution commemorating June 19, 1865 as the day on which slavery finally came to an end in the United States. The resolution noted that the observance of Juneteenth – sometimes called black independence day – is “an important and enriching part of our country’s history and heritage.” Despite celebrations and festivals all over the country, Juneteenth is not a federally recognized holiday.

Read Trump’s full statement on Juneteenth:

Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com.

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