Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Juneteenth Published June 19, 2021 By Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Department of Defense News The men and women of the Department of Defense are honored to participate in the first commemoration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Juneteenth holds particular significance for the United States military since it marks the date in 1865 — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — on which Union soldiers, led by Army Major General Gordon Granger, issued the famous General Order No. 3, informing the people of Texas that "all slaves are free." We are proud to build upon that legacy of emancipation as we work to defend our freedoms and to make real the full promise of American democracy for all our citizens, on June 19 and every day. I wish our outstanding men and women in uniform and our dedicated civilian workforce a meaningful Juneteenth.