June marks the first month of the summer season, the period on the calendar when we take vacations from school and work to travel and enjoy the company of our friends and family members. It’s our personal time, that sweet spot each year when we break free from the humdrum of our daily schedules and we have the freedom to do whatever we want,
But June also uniquely celebrates a number of events that brought true freedom to Americans who had been unable to experience the promise of America — “all men are created equal” — that we take for granted today.
June 12 is known as Loving Day. It was on that day in 1967 that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Virginia law that forbade interracial marriage and made it a criminal offense to do so. The Lovings, an interracial couple, were convicted under that Virginia law and, to avoid jail, they agreed to leave the state. Similar laws existed throughout all of the Southern states until the Supreme Court’s ruling.
June is observed as Pride Month by the LGBTQIA+ community to mark the date of June 28, 1969, when gays prtoested the arrests at the Stonewall Inn (a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village) at a time when police routinely made arrests of gay men on phony morals charges.
The riots, that lasted for a number of days, are widely-recognized as the beginning of the modern gay rights movement that culminated more than 50 years later with the Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 that struck down state laws forbidding same-sex marriage.
Juneteenth, which is now a national holiday, marks the day when the Union army entered the city of Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, and freed the slaves in Texas — the last state to be occupied by Union forces and where slavery still existed — pursuant to President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had gone into effect more than two years earlier on January 1, 1863.
Finally, June 14 is Flag Day, marking the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day and on August 3, 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.
Although it undeniably is true that America has fallen far short of the ideal that “all men are created equal,” it also is undeniably true that the flag of the United States has been the world’s greatest symbol of freedom since our nation’s founding.
Nations, like people, are far from perfect. But hopefully, the many holidays of freedom we observe in June attest to the truth of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” that ultimately will fulfill the promise of America.