Ezana Sehay July 4, 2012- As we get busy cherishing the prospect of our beloved country’s approaching renaissance, an important day has sneaked by with less attention paid than it deserves. That day was June 22nd.

June 22nd is our martyr’s day. A day we Ethiopians, remember the fallen heroes of the struggle against the genocidal regime [Derg].

It is the day that provides us an opportunity to celebrate the most sacred act of humanity. The day not only to sanctify the dead but also provide moral nourishment to those living. It is also a day to revisit our past history and look to the future. In other words, if the saying ‘those who forget the past are destined to repeat it ‘is true, martyr’s day is integral to ensuring a better, more peaceful Ethiopia for future generations.

We shouldn’t forget the reasons that drove those gallant sons and daughters of mother Ethiopia to dedicate their valued lives. --- Those were the days when morality was defined by selfish needs; when individualism had overtaken communal values; when the underpinning of human rightists had been eroded; when tyranny in the name of ideology had turned the country upside down. In the face of such evil and fascism those revolutionaries chose not to be bystanders.

My fellow Ethiopians! It’s true, forgetting the past is dangerous. Tens of thousands sacrificed their souls so that our people can live in a society defined by liberty and democracy.

And that tradition continues to this day. As we speak our gallant members of the defense force are paying with their lives to protect our security and national integrity, by taking the fight where our enemies hide out is. Because it is better to fight evil in its own domain rather than have it knock down your front door.

Yes – evil. It is important to recognize it when it stares at you in the face. And the heck with moral relativism. Anyone who is willing to commit mass murder by planting explosives in public places, kidnapping and shooting civilians and bombing mass transit systems is, in my view evil.

Another proud legacy of our defense forces is their role in the international arena. They have and are still bringing and maintaining peace in many hot spots of Africa. As proven in Burundi, Rwanda, Liberia, Sudan and Somalia, our defense forces credentials as a compassionate and professional is more compelling. Of course, in fulfilling this obligation lives are being lost too.

But folks, June 22nd is not only the day we remember the sacrifices made by our heroes, it is also the day we celebrate the precious gift they left us ---- freedom. Simon Wiesenthal was right when he said, ‘freedom is not a gift from heaven, and we must fight for it each and every day of our lives.’ After all the concept of freedom is a social construct that was created by humans as a result of centuries of oppression and conflict.

Therefore, let’s remember our fallen heroes who gave their lives so that our people could be free. But we should also remember that freedom is never absolute, nor is it permanent. That is why it is also wise to remember that we must always be ready to safe guard it.

Eternal glory to our martyrs.

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