In 1991, year of our independence, I sat among a pool of very talented fighters. I asked them if they will ever create a day called “Eritrean Veterans’ Day” in our country. They stared speechless at each other and I knew I had made an impeccable question; little did I know that it was a complex one.
The conclusion I reached on my own years later, is excruciating to this day. They did not want such a day simply because they had a hard time including all freedom fighters’ factions such as the ELF, the group of freedom fighters that opened the way to a 30 years’ war that culminated to our independence.
I understood back then, that a great achievement never is born from a comfort zone. And I told myself that this initiative should accomplish to something and at the end would result with an extraordinary opportunity to make so much wrong become that much right for the benefit of the Eritrean people.
I decided to walk at breakneck speed and it only seems to me that the response from the Veterans themselves is mind-bending slow. I think they understand- my country’s Veterans – that all I want is to bypass the superlative clip of “what is in it for me?”
I wish my country’s Veterans understood that it is encouraging when all seems good on paper or on phone conversations and it is heartbreaking when I encounter gloomy demeanor. My prayer for all of you to join in the creation of this day is simple and clear: it is all for you – Eritrean Veterans – to benefit from. And is all for us –your families – to benefit from your serenity. There is no reading between the lines.
I learned that it is hard to discern honest well-wishing among Eritreans, for we are so divided and cannot trust pure kindness anymore. We are more concerned about characteristics and read twice any offer given to us. This prevents us from highlighting the positive and underline the many negatives that pose as problems. But I would like to emphasize that we should not be concerned at all in reaching hands and show gratitude to those that gave up their lives for our freedom. To those that are around us and yet are shadows walking along us.
With multiple problems facing our daily life, we should look for elements we share and separate each at the base of the culture we were raised upon. The pure mold our people is made of, a culture made of respect towards people that took the bullet for us; gratitude for the same people that provided freedom for our children, to honor those that jumped to protect our elderly during the horrific occupation Ethiopia inflicted on Eritrea and Eritreans. I emphasize the aspects of an experience most suited to Eritreans. Because our culture and our upbringing is to give back and say thank you!
The creation of an Eritrean Veterans’ Day is nothing but a necessary challenging link to the aforementioned points of our culture. It is clean, easy to do, succinctly embracing all we hope to achieve and give back to our Veterans. There is no rattle of superlatives in our mission. Only honoring gratitude, a loyal and compassionate reach to make the present government understand the peaceful outcome of such day. Let us never forget our Martyrs’ wish to focus on the reasons for their sacrifices and work for a united and peaceful Eritrea.
I ask you- please – to take this as an open letter and apply within our group to be a member and/or to give us ideas, to ask questions I might not have asked. There must be an optimum level of persistence that might help our vision or speed the process along, but ultimately as many Eritreans as possible will make it easier to reach the finish line and make a significant difference in our walk. We fail when we do not try.
I am not negating all I just said, but honestly, no personal approach to a dream is universal. Each of our Veterans might have had a personal reason to join the armed struggle, but the ultimate wish was the common denominator and that is the well-being of a free Eritrea. Some of you might listen more than talk, some will not say much about themselves, but we are all interesting and should be fine by anyone’s book. All questions, suggestions, reactions, asides, comebacks are all just as interesting as answers.
I believed then and I believe today that together, we can make it.
The very best achievements are based on great conversations with respect for one another. With trust to build the Eritrea many died for and many are dying for to this present time.
I want you to impress and I wish you the best in your life. I mean it sincerely.
By: Kiki Tzeggai – May 29, 2017