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 [Originally posted 2013-06-17]

Anyone who identifies him/herself as Eritrean is able to do so due in large part to the unflinching valor of our freedom fighters. To help secure an independent Eritrea, they courageously laid their lives on the line – with the ones that we honor on this day, June 20, paying the ultimate sacrifice. They also showed a reflection of our societal values by displaying to the world the camaraderie, solidarity and selflessness that is deeply entrenched in our national psyche; our “Eritreanness.” But the most important lesson that our heroes/heroines, our Jeganu, taught us is that freedom is not given, it is earned. And they showed the world, in general, that against all odds we can make the seemingly impossible an inevitable reality.

Achieving independence was the goal of the armed struggle but it is not, by any means, “the endgame,” so to speak. Many of our freedom fighters sacrificed their lives for a greater cause. The cause was to create a just and prosperous society free from abusive exploitation. By laying down the groundwork they left us the opportunity of building a better life for Eritreans in the diaspora as well as in the homeland. In essence, because of them, we are masters of our own destiny. We have no dependency on individuals or groups of individuals who may not truly have our best interests in mind. So, with that in mind, the onus is on us to continue our martyrs’ legacy.

Although we can never adequately thank our martyrs for the ultimate sacrifice they’ve made, we can pay them back. In order to fulfill the oath that we have to our martyrs and to truly honor them, in the same manner that they displayed what it means to be Eritrean, we need to make a genuine commitment to mirror that effort.

Eternal glory to our martyrs!
Awet N’Hafash!