The veneration of our fallen heroes is never limited to a special time and place. The extent to which we are indebted to them can never be expressed through formal annual engagements. At any time and place, our formal meetings of any type begin with a silent tribute to their extreme altruism, which is the raison d’être to our hard-earned existence as a people. All speeches by Eritreans obviously conclude through the common and heartfelt slogan, “A Living Remembrance to our Martyrs.” Tree seedlings that we plant honouring our fallen heroes are nurtured with extra care. We normally find the certificates issued to the families of martyrs, as well as their photos, hung on the walls of the homes of Eritreans wherever they are. Hence, there are a number of factors that keep us attached to the trust of our fallen heroes on daily basis. Therefore, the people and Government of Eritrea keep an eye on the families of the martyred heroes as a symbol of respect to their trust. It is customary to notice fellow nationals from inside the country and abroad supporting such families financially, materially, as well as in terms of manual and other forms of labour.
Anyway, since it yet entails necessity, June is the month when the People of Eritrea formally honour in unison the fallen heroes, whose life was paid for the cause of realizing national independence, all-round freedom and popular integrity. Martyrs Day, on the 20th of June, was announced right after national independence in 1991 and the reason for the selection of this date is related to the conclusion of the futile Sixth Offensive, which, however, demanded the greatest number of lives as compared to that of the other military aggressions by the Ethiopian Derg regime.
Ever since Eritrea fell victim of the United States of America’s neo-colonial strategic interest, which resulted in unlawful annexation with Ethiopia, the Eritrean people were compelled to devote life sacrifices of tens of thousands of dear citizens at different times: During the thirty-year armed struggle for national independence, and later in connection with the imperative of safeguarding national sovereignty in the face of unwarranted military offenses that were waged against Eritrea through the servitude of the recently bankrupted, so called “Tigray People’s Liberation Front.” Thanks to such martyrdom, we are in a position to stand against the long-prevailed state of global hegemony and become genuinely free people whose survival is not at all subordinate to the interests of superpowers.
Martyrdom is an utmost demonstration of purposeful selflessness, and when someone is martyred, it is not merely a sudden experience of departing from physical existence and suffering loss of all bodily attributes and functions. Instead, there are a couple of personal elements who go through the experience of self-death in advance, for the sake of making the cherished cause a reality. First and foremost, ego has no place in the hearts and minds of our martyrs. And hence, all personal aspirations and potentials, familial desires etc. are wilfully put in the ground before the life-taking experience and they are thus substituted by mutual goal, which is the cause itself.
We have a long-standing saying from the experience of our struggle for independence: “Harbegna Aynebrn Eyu, Tarikhu Eyu Zwres,” which is contextually translatable as, “A hero can never be living; but the cause s/he bequeaths does.” When the corpses of fallen heroes are once laid to rest, they are never restored to a physically living state. But their highly treasured dream of realizing free and prosperous Eritrea cannot come to a halt as it is a national and societal legacy, for which we toil selflessly. We deeply understand that free Eritrea is gift of our heroic martyrs, and that keeping it as free as it originally was is the primary mandate of generations. This is our criterion in regards to living up to the expectations of the fallen heroes. It has never changed for decades; but it will rather shine across our generations.