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09/07/2016 22:18 PM

It is long overdue

Eritrean Veterans' Day

By Kiki Tzeggai

"When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude towards gratitude."

"The opposite of life is not death, it is indifference." Elie Wiesel (1928 - 2016)

I took for granted our "tegadeltys" when they left the comfort of their houses and fought a war to give me and all Eritreans the freedom we craved for 30 years.

We all took for granted that Eritrean tegadeltys of yesterday and Warsay Y'kaalo of not so long ago, would go to war when our neighbor from the South attacked - yet again - to conquer our land.

We took their actions as ones that were meant to be; that they were meant to provide freedom to us.

Our Veterans volunteered to fight.  No one coerced them to give up their lives.  They decided to fight for a just ca use.

When I think about our Veterans, there are a mix of emotions that take over:

- Some of  gravity, because those who dared to fight a powerful Ethiopia backed by even more powerful superpowers, left the comfort of their families and swore to never give up the fight so to give Eritrean children a peaceful sleep in the warmth of their parents' arms.

- Pride because each time we see the Eritrean flags' rhythmic movement in the wind, we smile and our hearts are filled with emotions of pride and belonging.

- Sorrow because many did not make it back home.

Every human being's most precious possession is life.

Our Veterans gave up their life as they knew it to provide every aspect of freedom to their people.  To paraphrase a meaningful US motto " Live free or die" is the basic rule our Veterans applied to their daily life while fighting the occupier.

To see them leaving for the immense challenge the liberation war threw at them, was taken by many of us as "their duty" or something we just expected them to do.  Our Veterans decided to never let their people live in slavery, but rather die.

But that is something we should not ask them to do anymore. For, by not creating an "Eritrean Veterans' Day" is asking them to fight a psychological war that never ends. It means to slowly die a death of forgotten gratitude, indifference and overdue recognition.

There is no Eritrean - no matter of our political stand these days - that is not proud of our Veterans.

 But we should equally accept our responsibility to create an Eritrean Veterans' Day and put into action that our heroic women and men are to be honored with one single day dedicated to them!

The best way to honor our Veterans is to create a day with a real meaning of eternal gratitude.  For now, let us simply celebrate said day where ever we live.  Let us shake hands with them.  Let them hear that they should not sacrifice any longer; we should tear down this wall of silence!

Kiki Tzeggai

July 03, 2016