Most federal offices remain open Juneteenth, due to last-minute signing of law

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Jun. 18—President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday, June 17, a bill to establish Juneteenth as a new federal holiday, but due to the timing, most area governmental offices won't be taking the day off until next year.

The law commemorates the end of slavery, with Juneteenth National Independence Day on June 19. Since that date fell on a Saturday this year, the federal holiday is being observed Friday, June 18.

A handful of local residents called the Daily Press to ask why the courthouse, banks, post office and congressional offices are all open. Only non-essential federal, state, and city government offices are closed, again because the bill was only signed into law the day before.

A Cherokee County Courthouse official pointed out that vacations and holidays are scheduled a year in advance for the building. He said a determination will be made on whether the courthouse will close on Juneteenth 2022 when the Board of County Commissioners discusses the holiday and vacation calendar later this year.

The Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. central bank that supervises and regulates banks, closed its offices Friday. However, financial services remained open, including the stock market. U.S. Postal Service branches are open Friday and Saturday, and officials said there wasn't enough time to cease operations to observe the federal holiday.

"Closing down our operations without providing appropriate time would lead to operational disruptions and be a disservice to our customers and those who rely upon us. For that reason, the Postal Service will be operating on June 18 and 19, 2021, on a normal schedule, serving our customers to the best of our ability," an official stated.

Juneteenth marks the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom of enslaved Black people to Texas, two months after the Confederacy surrendered and 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the southern states.

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