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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | June 19, 2008

Andrews celebrates Juneteenth - Gospel style

By Bobby Jones Capital Flyer staff photojournalist

Andrews Chapel 3 Gospel Service Choir hosted it's Fourth Annual Juneteenth Celebration in the parking lot in front of Chapel 3, at 7:30pm, June 13.

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, dating back to June 19, 1865.

The spiritual-based event, showcased a band comprised of various musicians from local gospel choirs, and a dance troupe.

The celebration also treated audience members to a retrospective look at the emancipation of slaves through dramatic skits, poems, bible-based scriptures and poem readings.

One of the highlights of celebration drew a standing ovation when one performer used a dramatic mime dance routine to illustrate his personal life-long battle and victory overcoming cancer.

Tech. Sgt. (ret.) Stafford Patterson, better known as "Tiny," is one third of Triple T Ministries, a men's mime troupe from the Horizon Gospel Ministries, Clinton, Md. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1984 and was given just six months to live. His cancer has been in remission since 1988.

"I did the mime to show people that they too can get through the ordeals in their lives, no matter what the odds; through faith in God," said Mr. Patterson.

"I saw the mime as a symbolic correlation between Mr. Patterson's freedom from cancer and the emancipation of slaves," said one audience member, interpreting the performance. "It was very moving."

Another performance dramatized the actual release of slaves through song, dance and a short skit.

Alicia Patterson, wife of Mr. Patterson, portrayed an elderly woman giving a young girl guidance in dealing with life's adversities during the period prior to the emancipation of slaves, through song and liturgical dance. She concluded her performance by dropping her cane and joining a dance troupe in a choreographed dance portraying the freedom of slaves.

The audience was also entertained through poems and educated about the origins of Juneteenth, now in its 153rd anniversary.

Members from the Bolling Choir, the Andrews Gospel Choir, New Horizon Baptist Church, Fort Meade Gospel Choir were in attendance for the celebration.

The festivities concluded with a song that encouraged participation. The audience was also treated to free food and refreshments.