Every anniversary of the 6 October 1973 War revives memories of the acts of heroism performed during the victorious crossing of the Suez Canal that enabled our Armed Forces to raise the Egyptian flag high on the eastern bank of the blessed land of Sinai.
The October War was not just a war of territorial liberation. It was a major turning point in the history of our nation. It was one of those magnificent national epics of the Egyptian people that will remain eternally engraved in our national consciousness and in the annals of our history – and not just of our modern history but in the entire span of our history as well.
It is simultaneously a saga of national unity and of devotion to the nation. It epitomises with the utmost succinctness and profundity the meanings of patriotism and resolve, steadfastness and determination, and the values of inclusion, cohesion and interconnectedness between all classes and communities of the Egyptian people.
This critical war in our modern history precipitated profound changes that had major repercussions in the region and beyond. Above all, it ushered in the peace processes that have taken their course in the region. Economically, the world realised the significance of Arab cooperation and solidarity and the impact of Arab oil.
From the national perspective, the Egyptian people realised that the secret of their strength, their union and their victory lay in their support of their great army. Cohesion, unity and solidarity have always been the keys to the victories accomplished by the Egyptian people throughout their long history. In 1973, this great people, by dint of their valiant army, the sacrifices of their soldiers and the sweat of their brows, succeeded in turning defeat into a glorious victory that elevated our ancient nation and its venerable people to the place it merits among nations.
The Egyptian people, in the course of their millennia-long history, have been distinguished by three main traits – as the makers of civilisation, the makers of victory and the makers of achievement.
MAKERS OF CIVILISATION
The ancient Egyptians were the first in the development of ancient civilisation and were in the vanguard of all nations in forging human advancement and progress.
Not only did they build pyramids, temples and obelisks, but they also excelled in the arts and sciences, including in medicine, chemistry, astronomy, architecture, sculpture, music and much more. As Egypt’s history evolved, other civilisations arose on this land. The result is that today the Egyptian character is unique in that it combines the successive layers of the civilisations and cultures that have left their mark on the country. It has been aptly said that the Egyptians have culture in their flesh and bones.
Egypt is also mentioned in the Bible more than 700 times. “Blessed be Egypt my people,” said the Lord (Isaiah 19:25). Egypt was blessed by the visit of the Holy Family, and it will remain an oasis of safety, security, peace and stability.
MAKERS OF VICTORY
Throughout history, Egypt has been a haven for refugees and those fleeing injustice. Since ancient times, the Egyptians have been noted for their tolerance, benevolence, generosity and hospitality.
At the same time, Egypt has always been a graveyard for invaders. Among the finest examples of how the Egyptian people and their army have resisted aggressors, occupiers and colonisers are to be found in the Tripartite Aggression of 1956, the War of Attrition after 1967, the October 1973 victory and, most recently, the war against terrorism.
The great Egyptian people realise that their armed forces and police are the shield against all threats and dangers and the rampart against all attempts to harm Egypt, the home of the oldest human civilisation whose beacon continues to shine after thousands of years.
MAKERS OF ACHIEVEMENT
Just as the crossing of the Suez Canal led to victory in the 1973 War, Egypt’s battle for development and progress is the bridge to a brighter future.
The Egyptian people have scored a number of great achievements, from the Aswan High Dam, the Cairo metro system, the development of the new industrial cities, the New Suez Canal and the transportation tunnels beneath it, and the construction of the New Administrative Capital.
There have also been the growing network of roads and bridges, the 1.5 million acres land-reclamation project, the national public-health campaigns, the national projects for educational reform and development, numerous housing and urban-development projects and the Sinai Development Project. These are only some of the landmarks in the Egyptian people’s story of achievement.
Today, the great Egyptian people, the makers of civilisation, makers of victory and makers of achievement, need to work together to safeguard their nation in security and peace. They need to preserve the spirit of the glorious October victory. We must remain united, bound by our confidence in our conscientious leadership. We must work together, earnestly and strenuously, to advance our cause for progress and development. This is our battle to cross from the present to the future, a battle led by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi in order to steer Egypt to the forefront regionally and internationally.
As we commemorate the victory in the October War, we salute our martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the nation and the many wounded and injured who risked their lives in the defence of the nation in order to secure its land, independence and peace. We salute the families of the dead and wounded, and we pay tribute to all the commanders, officers and soldiers who were the heroes of the October War and who gave us such splendid models of courage, self-sacrifice and patriotism on behalf of their dear nation and great people.
We congratulate and salute the heroic Egyptian army, the great people of Egypt, and the man at the helm today, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the president of all Egyptians. Egypt today under his wise leadership combines the spirit of the 6 October victory with the will of the 30 June Revolution, epitomising the Egyptian people’s eternally renewed spirit of determination and triumph.
We pray to God for the peace, stability, progress and prosperity of our beloved Egypt. We have no cause to fear, for our nation is close to the heart of God and will remain safe, strong and stable in accordance with His will. May the Lord protect Egypt from evil.
We also take this opportunity to pray for the return of security, stability and peace to all the countries around us in the region that have been plagued by war, discord and conflict. We salute Egypt and all Egyptians on this glorious occasion.
*Pope Tawadros II is the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church
*A version of this article appears in print in the 10 October, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly