What does Freedom mean to you? That’s the question asked repeatedly, all across the United States, of young people, in school, during Debates or even on College Scholarship applications. Most of us would answer something like, “Freedom means, the right to act, speak, or think as one wants” or “Freedom of choice.” But there’s another kind of freedom that is very important to all Americans and it’s celebrated every year, on February 1st.
National Freedom Day, observed on February 1st of every year , celebrates freedom from Slavery as well as recognizing America, itself, as a symbol of liberty.
This special day honors the resolution, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, that later became the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. President Lincoln signed the resolution on February 1, 1865, making the act of Slavery illegal. Then, on December 18, 1865, it was ratified by the States.
But what about the 4th of July? Fireworks, Bar-B-Ques, Sack Races? The 4th of July is, of course, Independence Day, a day we celebrate our Independence from Great Britain and it’s King. To clear up any confusion, on June 30, 1948, President Harry Truman signed a bill setting aside February 1st as the official National Freedom Day in the United States.
But there is more… It wasn’t President Truman’s idea. That honor goes to Major Richard Robert Wright, Sr., a former slave, who created National Freedom Day. Major Wright, a college founder and banker is considered a great leader and although most of us have never heard of him, his accomplishments and contributions to the history of the United States is remarkable!
Now that you know, how do Americans celebrate this great day in History? In the past, many American towns held Parades, Festivals and Celebrations. The same is true today (sort-of) but because National Freedom Day isn’t an official Federal Holiday, children are in school, the government and businesses carry on as usual and banks are open. Most people, today, reflect on the freedom they enjoy or attend rallies to promote international freedom for all. There is also an annual wreath laying ceremony at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia: “Let Freedom Ring”
To participate, use #NationalFreedomDay to post on social media. Also, check out scholarships offered to prospective college students on National Freedom Day.