Why many government offices are closing Wednesday for Juneteenth

Wednesday is Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the day in 1865 when the last remaining slaves in the U.S. were freed.

This year marks the fourth time since 2021 that June 19 has been designated a federal holiday by Congress, and for many government workers, it is a day out of the office. That means some services might be closed on Wednesday.

Efforts were underway as early as 1994 to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. In 1997, Congress began introducing resolutions annually commemorating the day.

The federal government now designates June 19 as “Juneteenth National Independence Day.” According to the Congressional Research Service, 28 states also recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. In most of those states, state offices will close as well. Texas was the only state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday before 2013, having adopted it as a holiday starting in 1980.

Missouri adopted the day as a public holiday in 2013. Pennsylvania became the third state to make it a public holiday in 2019. Twenty-five other states have since made the day a holiday.

Here is a look at what’s closed:

– Nonessential federal offices, courthouses

– U.S. post offices

– Most banks

– Stock markets

– Many public schools, city and state offices

Essential government offices, like the National Weather Service, will remain open. Also, U.S. national parks and Smithsonian museums remain open on Wednesday.

Examples of nonessential offices closed on Wednesday include the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.

Most retailers will keep their normal Wednesday hours for the day, although some might offer the day as a holiday to their employees.

The origins of Juneteenth date back to June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation nearly 30 months earlier.

According to the Smithsonian, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston that day to deliver the news to the last remaining slaves in the U.S. Once they were freed, slavery officially came to an end in the U.S.

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