Juneteenth, Veterans Day Become Official City Holidays

Amanda J. Raaska

At their meeting on Sept. 15, the Huntsville City Council decided to add two dates to their list of city holidays: Juneteenth and Veterans Day.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States every year on June 19. Veterans Day takes place on Nov. 11 and honors the men and women who served in the United States armed forces.

With a 6-3 vote, city council members stated their personal opinions on the addition of these two new days to the list of city recognized holidays. Veterans Day allows veterans working for the city to take the day off, while everyone who works for the city can take the day off for Juneteenth.

On the topic of the addition, some city council members focused on how it takes care of the city workers and celebrates diversity in the community.

“When the city recognizes [Juneteenth] as a holiday, it shows the citizens that our community values a day that is important to them,” Councilmember Daiquiri Beebe said. “The holiday will provide a day off for city staff and build morale amongst them.”

City councilmember Blake Irving spoke in support of recognizing both holidays, and said it is important to let city employees know that they are valued.

“I hope it also shows that we as black people just want a seat at the table, and this is a step in the right direction,” Irving said. “By recognizing our differences and celebrating them in unity was the goal. When it comes to Veterans Day, I felt that we should give to our veteran employees because they put their lives on the line for us to have the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Not all city council members shared the same thoughts and focused on how it will financially impact tax payers.

Councilmember Joe Rodriquez voted against the city recognizing the two days, stating that the total number of recognized holidays was getting too high. He said that city employees will now have a total of 14 holidays per year and veteran employees will have 15.

“It will cost the city tax payers money because the city will be paying for more non-work days by employees,” Rodriquez said. “In addition, what will happen if Hispanic employees ask for equal treatment on Cinco de Mayo or Sept. 16 (Mexican Independence Day)? Bad precedent to set.”

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