The human species has been able to progress because every now and then, we have been blessed with the presence of men who were not satisfied to do the bare minimum. More often than not, to engage in the battle of survival, it is not enough to just survive. It requires a resounding resiliency to lay it all on the ground. To fight as if anything less than complete victory is unacceptable. The battle that we choose to fight is as important as the field in which we engage the challenger.
On November 18, 1803, great men of the oppressed land of Saint Domingue fought the decisive battle not just for the survival of a few, but for the freedom of all men. At Vertieres, under the command of Jean Jacques Dessalines and Francois Capois “La Mort”, the fate of humanity was changed forever. At that very moment, all assumptions that slaves and oppressed people could not win their freedom on their own term became a fable. The Haitian people under the great leadership of Dessalines and others proved that freedom at all cost is always the right battle to fight.
Approximately 60 years later, November 19, 1863 to be more precise, a great American president came along, under the name of Abraham Lincoln and delivered an address at Gettysburg, which would resonate to men all across the planet. He challenged the living to dedicate their courage to finish the unfinished work of the dead. Lincoln was addressing a nation marred in a civil war, which had great aspiration to become a great nation. His words to find devotion in the honored dead, and to preserve their sacrifice should resonate with the difficulty we face today.
Although there is not a direct road from Vertieres to Gettysburg, as far as a physical highway is concerned, we can still try to make the distance between them crossable by applying our knowledge of what took place at these two sacred battlefields. The lessons learned from Vertieres and Gettysburg is that impossibility only exists in the mind of those who are not willing to sacrifice for the attainment of the possibility.
At this moment we must get ourselves ready for when our lucky star will shine because if we blink at the wrong time, we might miss our opportunity.
We know that our fellow citizens are not free. Mentally they are still enslaved in the ideas of thinking small, or not thinking at all. Economically, they are all living under chapter 11 bankruptcy because all the preceding chapters have robbed them of their currency, which is hope. Educationally, they are still illiterate because their freedom to learn has been directly linked to the last name they have or the locality in which they were born. Socially, we suffer from a psycho-paralysis that prevents us from seeing the success in others as our own, and repudiate the fact that we are all one people. And lastly, physically, we all assume that we are as incapable to solve the problems of our own country as a foreigner with no knowledge of our history, culture, identity, and aspiration.
The moment we break from this cycle of ineptitude, we will be able to understand the bigger meaning of Vertieres and Gettysburg. From the Haitian perspective, we would come to realize that Vertieres is the ground in which our freedom as a people was sealed and that our identity as one nation was solidified. From the foreigner’s perspective, Gettysburg shall be their guide to understand like them, we once aspired to become a great nation, and will continue to aspire to reach our targeted destiny.
It is a little ironic that Gettysburg is sort of tied up with the emancipation proclamation; in that, the address at Gettysburg was necessary to defend the value of the proclamation, whereas Vertieres was defending a cause that has yet to be proclaimed. Freedom we seek, freedom we shall receive. We, the Haitian people, are indivisible under our history. We should not rest until we give meaning to the sacrifice of those who came before us: One nation, one people, and one vision. Vertieres must never be forgotten.
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