This opinion piece was written and submitted by Meghan Jensen.
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The 117th US Congress passed S. 475 Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 16th with 14 Republicans objecting in the house. While Wyoming has observed Juneteenth as a holiday since 2003, all US Congressional members of the Wyoming delegation have voted in support of this 2021 legislation and Governor Gordon vows to support it at a state level.
Yet, to a few, it is President Biden and him only who has enacted the Juneteenth National Day Act. In Sweetwater County, that is Commissioner Mary Thoman. Thankfully for Sweetwater County, Wyoming and the United States, the US president is not and should not ever be a king.
In the June Commissioner’s special meeting on June 17th, Commissioner Thoman expressed her concerns enacting changes necessary to enact S. 475 at the county level.
She stated that “I do not believe we should be dictated by President Biden. If we want to give our employees a raise or a day off, that should be our prerogative. And I am not in favor of Biden adding more national holidays.” Commissioner Thoman’s comments deceive constituents and play to the vulnerability of Sweertwater County’s population during an economic crisis, enabling our county to become ignorant to the legislative process by coercing them into believing that it is only one person that is responsible for legislation.
The legislative process is what has benefited our society and safeguards us from the very thing that led America to becoming the free nation that we should always continuously work towards being.
When elected officials like Commissioner Thoman state that “I’m not opposed to our people having time off, but we already have 12 federal holidays and this is based on 1865 action. I think it’s totally out of line for the purpose that they’re proclaiming it.
Not that it shouldn’t be recognized, but how many other holidays could we start adding then. I am opposed,” we should be asking “Why should we not be celebrating freedom in the United States of America?”
We should also all be celebrating the ability as citizens to be a part of the Democratic process, the legislative process and more importantly, understand it. Without the legislative process, we most assuredly would be stuck with a monarchy and by consistently naming the president as a sole proprietor of legislation could dangerously lead us down a path to a monarchy.
Together, let’s celebrate the passage of S 475 here in Sweetwater County knowing that it took more than just one person to make it happen and also the fact that freedom is a pillar of our Democracy.
The first step to commemorating Juneteenth in Sweetwater County is to remind elected officials like Commissioner Thoman of the legislative process.