updated 6/18/2009 4:29:10 PM ET 2009-06-18T20:29:10

The Senate has unanimously passed a resolution apologizing for slavery and racial segregation in the U.S. and sent the measure to the House.

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Democrat Tom Harkin first introduced the measure years ago but wanted it passed Thursday on the eve of Juneteenth, June 19, a day of celebration commemorating the end of the Civil War in 1865 and the release of African Americans from slavery. He said the House is to take it up soon and that a formal celebration will be held next month.

Juneteenth Day events are held in communities around the U.S. to commemorate the day in 1865 when Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, to announce the Civil War was over and that slaves were free.

The Senate has passed such nonbinding but highly symbolic resolutions before, apologizing for such things as the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The resolution passed Thursday includes a disclaimer saying that nothing in it supports or authorizes reparations by the United States.

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