A Juneteenth Holiday ‘Ask Me Anything’

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.
[U.S. flag in shape of U.S.]

It’s Wednesday, June 19, also known as “Juneteenth,” and financial markets are closed in observance of the holiday. Now, Juneteenth has only been a recognized federal holiday since 2021, so it’s not that surprising to me that a few readers wrote me this morning to ask me why the markets were closed (and why the prices of their stocks weren’t changing).

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One reader’s question prompted me to do another edition of one of my favorite The Deep Woods issue themes, “Ask Me Anything.” So, let’s kick it off with a Juneteenth inquiry from this morning.

David K. writes: “Jim, what is the deal with ‘Juneteenth’? Is this a real holiday? Why is this important? It seems like the government just makes up reasons not to work.”

David, I believe I first learned about Juneteenth in 2020, the year before it was designated a federal holiday. At the time, I must admit I was ignorant of the events Juneteenth was designed to commemorate. And while ignorance on a subject is nothing to be embarrassed by, choosing to remain ignorant should be a source of embarrassment to all thinking men.

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So, a few years ago I chose to read about Juneteenth, what it was, what it means and why I think it’s an amazing occasion that should rightly be celebrated.

First, Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 each year, and it commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. The holiday’s name is a portmanteau of the words “June” and “nineteenth”, as it was on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas at the end of the Civil War.

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Writing today in Reason.com, Ilya Somin puts the significance of this day in brilliant perspective:

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“… the abolition of slavery was the greatest achievement of the universal principles underlying the American Revolution, and a rebuke to ethnic nationalism and separatism. Slavery was America’s worst injustice, and its abolition is obviously worthy of celebration.”

I 100% agree with Somin’s take here. I also highly recommend reading his piece, as it addresses some of the unfortunate, yet easily predictable, culture war issues that have erupted around Juneteenth. Somin, however, correctly puts those issues in their proper perspective and focuses the reader on the importance and true meaning of the holiday.

Now, from the perspective of philosophic principles, the notion that one human being has the right to own another human being is perhaps the most repugnant idea that has ever infected humanity. Sadly, you can find sanction for this idea to this day, not only in the legal canons of many countries around the world, but also in many religious texts and traditions.

The abolishment by law of slavery in the United States should be lauded as a benchmark of moral progress in our nation’s laudable history of promoting individual rights, and the wider philosophic idea that man is an end in himself — and not a tool for other men, or the state or the church, to dispose of as they wish.

So, today, I am celebrating Juneteenth, and if you are someone who considers man as an end in himself, and not the means to another’s end — you should celebrate, too.

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Always More Homer

“But the great leveler, Death: not even the gods can defend a man, not even one they love, that day when fate takes hold and lays him out at last.”

–Homer, “The Odyssey”

The day when fate takes hold and lays us out at last will happen to us all. And right before that moment of finality, will you be able to say you lived as you chose? If not, then choose something different, and choose it right now. Moments are precious, and none of us know when fate will lay us out at last. So, don’t hesitate. Your happiness here, right now, is the moral purpose of your life. Waste not a second in pursuit of anything less.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

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In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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