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Remembering 79 year later: Yekatit 12 -By Berhane Tadese

Yekatit 12 Martyrs Square, Sidist Kilo, Addis Ababa, EthiopiaDiaspora Ethiopians living in New York metropolitan area celebrated Yekatit 12 Marty’s day on February 22, 2015 at several local Ethiopians churches. In general religious places bring Ethiopians closely tied to the home country. To commemorate this date, Ethiopia Community Mutual Assistance Association in NY (ECMAA) with partnering with Global Alliance for Ethiopia Cause, had called several local churches in metropolitan area and requested them to have a memorial service for Yekatit 12 massacre service at their own location on this date. It was nice to see that it was widely accepted and fully supported.  Ethiopians used this month to remember Yekatit 12, and also to honor and to speak about heroes who sacrificed their life. Fascist targeted churches to subdue Ethiopians for colonial rule. The massacre in the monastery of Debre Libanos by Graziani is one example of retribution after the assassination attempt by the young heroes Abraham Deboch and Moges Asgedom in February 1937.  In Ethiopia Yekatit 12 had always been remembered by parade and placing wreath at the martyr’s monument in Addis Ababa.
I have an opportunity to witness the remembrance celebration of today’s event (2/22/2015) at the one of NYC area church (St. Mary at Yonkers, NY). The priests and deacons conducted close to fifteen minutes dedicated memorial services as part of the regular mass. The service was ecumenical endeavor, engaging everyone in deep sentiment and sadness. The priest reflected on those harrowing days and blessed the dead in prayer and joyous song. After the mass ended, the parishioners went to the coffee hall. The Church’s public relation officer, Mr. Girmatchew, made an introductory remark about the event and thanked ECMAA for inviting a guest speaker for the occasion.  He then introduced the invited guest Dr. Girma Abebe to speak about the event. Dr. Girma provided his personal experience as young boy during the Italian invasion. His complete speech is enclosed.
The Italian fascist act left a deep and hard to heal festering wound is for so many people. Its reign of terror lasted for five years. Our forefather strived to protect the country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. We must care about the culture, heritage and the well-being of all Ethiopians and should continue commemorating Yekatit 12 each year.

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