For those of you who are not aware — and until a couple of days ago, that included us — today is a holiday. National Freedom Day commemorates Feb. 1, 1865, the day that President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery. Its purpose, according to the Library of Congress, is “to promote goodwill, harmony, and equal opportunity among all citizens, and to rededicate the nation to the ideal of freedom.”
The effort to mark the day is credited to Major Richard Robert Wright, a former slave who went on to become a prominent activist, businessman and post-reconstruction pioneer in Philadelphia. On June 30, 1948, year after Wright’s death, a bill making Feb. 1 National Freedom Day was signed into law by President Harry Truman.
Freedom is the very foundation of our republic. The rights and privileges enjoyed by the citizens of our nation are the very dreams of the Founding Fathers. Every day we strive to celebrate the freedom of expression on these pages, and we are honored to let readers take part in that celebration through letters and guest commentaries.
So we encourage you to reflect on our freedoms today, and mark your calendar so that we don’t let this holiday slip by again.