Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

There is so much to celebrate in June. There is Father’s Day, the opening of farmer’s markets and, here in the Iowa Great Lakes, the beginning of vacation season to name a few. Lately I have been thinking about how the list of things to celebrate in June seems to be increasing just like the daylight throughout the month, and how this reflects our country’s ongoing maturity and ability to treat all kinds of people fairly. Many of these are changes I have witnessed in my lifetime, and that future generations may take for granted. For example, I never heard of Juneteenth – the celebration of the end of slavery – until I was an adult while on a road trip through Texas with my husband. At a stop in Galveston, I learned slavery had continued there two years, long past the end of the Civil War. When the news finally arrived sometime in mid June in 1865, the African Americans burst into joy and celebration of their freedom. Now Juneteenth is becoming more widely celebrated and recently proclaimed a national holiday. June is also a month to celebrate Gay Pride and the increasing acceptance of the LGTBQ community compared to the past. In fact, I heard a Gay Pride jingle on the Walmart sound system while shopping there this weekend.

Another June celebration is international. World Refugee Day is held on June 20 to honor the strength and courage of refugees. This year is the 50th anniversary of World Refugee Day and marks the establishment of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The convention was created by the United Nations with United States support in the aftermath of World War II, the deadliest and most destructive conflict the world has ever witnessed. The core principle of the convention is “non-refoulement,” which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law. Today, the world’s refugees number over 26 million. Unless they can be repatriated, refugees need food, medical care, vaccinations, clean water, education, shelter and safety. During the pandemic, the world refugee situation has become even more dire. The United States is playing a leadership role in COVAX, a vaccine alliance through the World Health Organization, by offering COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. This is not only altruistic but it is also in our own self-interest, since none of us are completely safe from the pandemic until all of us around the world are safe.

What these June celebrations all have in common is the growth of our democracy and beloved country to uphold the Pledge of Allegiance of “liberty and justice for all” that I have recited since grade school, and to be an example to the world of these ideals. Lots to celebrate in June, and I look forward to celebrating my patriotism on July 4.

Sincerely,

Jane Shuttleworth

Okoboji