Veterans’ vis-ŕ-vis the Youth
Fekadu W. 09-19-17
Tadesse Belachew is a grandson of Ethiopian patriot whose grandfather had fought in Korea in 1950s. He said this generation is indebted to the gratitude of his heroes and has the obligation to celebrate and honor the sacrifices they paid (as we have commenced to commemorate the contribution of our heroes and veterans on Sept. 8 /2017, as ``Day of Patriots and Patriotism``). After all there is no greater pride than undertaking patriotic activities that make one’s country great.
He said his granny has told him that Ethiopia’s Kagnaw battalion deployed in Korea was the only contingent that had no prisoners to collect from the North Koreans since no Kagnew soldier ever surrendered. This earned Kagnaw the respect of their American colleagues, while fostering the belief among their opponents, who had often never even seen black people before, that they were superhuman.
Currently, Tadesse said he is serving as civics and ethical education teacher in Shimelis Habte secondary school. According to him, the current generation does not know the sacrifice paid by fore fathers and mothers to protect the country from enemies nor understand the ways in which patriotism and one’s love of country be expressed these days.
He stressed that the sacrifice of ancestors should be admired and be thought to this generation as a big lesson. Commemorating patriots enables to understand history and imitate best experiences and great deeds of heroes. The new generation has to follow the footsteps of his ancestors regarding protecting sovereignty of the country and selflessly securing the interest of people.
He is of the opinion that the past generation had been virtuous and trustworthy to sacrifice itself at various war fronts. However, the current generation does not need to go to war for the saga of endless wars had been concluded by the courageous act of forefathers and mothers. He said industriousness and punctuality are vital means of expressing patriotism in this era of space age technology. Particularly, the spirit of industriousness may help citizens to work hard and extricate the country from rock bottom poverty and augment its status quo to the level of developed countries.
Tadesse says seeing the medals of his granny hanging on the middle of their ram shackled wall makes him swell in pride. He boasts of the medals awarded to his granny as existent witnesses of insurmountable courage and patriotism. He believes patriotic blood is bubbling inside his blood vessel and sometimes gets plunged in to hysteric mood when he sees Ethiopia’s flag being hoisted up at an international arena, for instance, when Ethiopian athletes win competitions.
He said he does not regret for not being an athlete. He is proud of serving his country as a teacher and educating the youth. He said he staunchly believes that patriotism is and means becoming successful in one’s own career and serving the country responsibly.
According to him, Ethiopia’s flag is flying high in the international arena due to unparalleled martyrdom. He believes he is enthusiastically ready to contribute his own to his country and the young generation should follow the footsteps of martyrs.
Similarly, Col. Zeray Amade-Mariam is also another witness of patriotism during the May Day call forwarded by Ethiopia, during the time of aggression committed by Siad Barre, Somalia. During that turbulent time of 1970s, he said, Somalia quickly mobilized its force and invaded Ethiopia as far to the highlands of Harer.
He said he was a commander of regiment deployed to fend off aggressors. They were fully equipped with every kind of weapon to their teeth. However, Ethiopian patriots were armed with simple guns and howitzers. However, fervent love of Ethiopia and patriotism had enabled veterans to fight ferociously and end the war victoriously.
He reminisced that the cause of the conflict was the desire of Somali government to incorporate Somali-inhabited region of Ethiopia into its territory as part of Greater Somalia. However, Zeray’s battalion entrusted to fight off the invaders at Dire Dawa and Jigjiga fronts had inflicted heavy casualties on intruders.
Over all, ancestors of the current generation had discharged their duties responsibly eyed at protecting Ethiopia from foreign enemies. Their boundless sacrifice had been witnessed in the last 100 years (from 1870s to 1970s) where Ethiopia was at war with Egypt, Ottoman Turks, Italians and other European colonizers. History alludes that all the conflicts had been winded up with the victory of Ethiopians and annihilation of intruders.
The utmost expression of patriotism had happened in 1896 at the battle of Adwa in which Ethiopian veterans humiliatingly crushed the invading army of Italy. This dazzling victory has become a transcending feat that is used to rallying a cause for liberty; the victory is an embodiment of greatness that will be remembered for posterity.
Likewise, the victory of Adawa is the most formidable achievement of Ethiopian patriots who become the everlasting epitome of selfless love to their country and triumph of black race over whites (though incessant conflicts that end up in abject poverty conspired to rob greatness of the country and the scars left by these historical downturns continue to dog).
Since long, Ethiopian sons and daughters are known to their act of bravery evidenced by speedy response during invasion. As big testament of patriotism, all citizens had unanimously been marching towards the fronts violated by aggressors. Ethiopian forces are used to fighting so courageously that every aggressor had been routed completely as they cannot resist the onslaught unleashed by patriots.
Patriotism is known to be love for one’s ancestry, culture or home land, among others (derived from the Greek word kuptrios meaning ones fathers or patris equivalent to one’s father land).In line with this, most semantic professionals agree on the meaning of patriotism as ‘’love of one’s country and willingness to defend it’’. Hence, a patriot is anyone who is self-sacrificing and disinterestedly exerting himself to promote the well-being of his country.
Particularly, patriotism is built on crucial pillars including prioritizing the benefits of others, helping the incapable, the old and the disabled and contributing one’s own share to the community; helping the country in time of need and prioritizing its benefit, caring to others and being ready to listen to the views of others, among others; it is unequaled attachment to homeland manifested through selfless actions.
Real patriotism could by no means be derogated or downgraded any time because it is inseparably attached to the heart of hearts of citizens (imagine how our heart is racing while we look at our athletes speeding to go past the last lap during a competition and the Ethiopian flag flying high accompanied by national anthem).
Patriotism is also connected with paying altruist sacrifice to one’s country in every aspect, be it hard work, discharging responsibilities properly, willingness to pay taxes in full rather than seeking tax loopholes and squirreling away money at home and abroad. Taking in to account these issues, Ethiopia has been built by selfless citizens who have been offering all they have for the sake of patriotism (hence, the writer is of the opinion that selfish and unruly individuals who do not discharge their responsibilities as per the call of their country are not patriots, but wimpy and traitors).
Equally important for patriots and patriotism, gallant forefathers and mothers have not let ethnic, language, religious and cultural differences weaken their bond. Hence, the legacy of great people who have preserved the territorial and social integrity of this great nation should be sustained by the current generation. In particular, the contribution of compatriots who selflessly served their country in various fields and paid highest prices to make Ethiopia great should be repeated in the sphere of poverty alleviation.
Patriotism has multi-faceted means to be exercised. Specifically, as part of exercising patriotism, the young generation may participate in the fight against corruption and alleviation of poverty. Now, the country has declared an all out war on the said predicaments and citizens should unreservedly participate to end the war successfully. Nation may effectively turn out triumphant over the aforementioned enemies if the greater public responsibly cooperates, serves as whistle blower and ardently supports anti-poverty endeavor of the country.
These days, the current generation is not required to squeeze its blood out for the sake of benefiting his/her country. He/she has to simply exert tremendous effort to contribute its own to anti-poverty struggle of the country. This contribution only needs to be successful in one’s own preferred work, activity and employment (this steward generation is not required to sacrifice his /her blood and bones as martyrs did in the past).
In view of patriotism, citizens both at home and abroad must not hesitate to contribute their due share to extricate Ethiopia from the grip of poverty. Nation should not re-experience strife caused by poverty and hunger. This duty of blasting abominable poverty is incumbent on all sons and daughters of Ethiopia; they should accommodate their differences in a civilized manner, join hands and work hard to restore its former greatness.
To this end, rational thinking is needed more than ever to strengthen sense of patriotism of the current generation. Ethiopia is the pride of black race as a result of the inimitable Adwa Victory over a colonial power; its predominant effort and achievement to forge unified Africa and drive it up to the level of African Union (also for its being the seat of African Union and hub of global diplomacy). And thinking of restoring the grandeur of Ethiopia is the inevitable home work of patriotic citizens.
Ethiopia is a country renowned for being the land of origins, ancient civilizations, rich history as well as numerous nations and nationalities which have diverse languages, beliefs and traditions. Hence, if this generation says I love my country, he /she has to work hard to develop these natural resources and help the country overcome poverty for patriotism is best expressed through hard work and industriousness.