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San Jose to Mark 31st Annual Ethiopian-American Cultural and Sports Festival with Ethiopian Heritage Flag Raising Ceremony

San Jose, California, May 27 – For the tenth year in a row, the City of San Jose will once again hoist the Ethiopian Heritage Flag over New City Hall on Thursday July 3, at 04:00pm. San Jose city officials will be in attendance. The Ethiopian-American Council (EAC) and the civic leaders of San Jose invite all citizens to share in this solemn and celebratory ceremony at New City Hall, located at 200 East Santa Clara Street in San Jose.

San Jose First to Salute Ethiopia’s Heritage
This special civic ceremony is a salute to the Ethiopian flag and a heartfelt remembrance of Ethiopian roots and heritage. Presently, San Jose is the only city in America to have established a week long tradition, annual acknowledgment of the heritage and history of Ethiopian-Americans. When the Ethiopian flag was first flown over New City Hall in 2005, it was a historical event in that no other foreign flag had been so honored in the history of the new city hall.

Welcoming the Ethiopian Sports Federation
In the past, the flag-raising ceremony has been held to commemorate the advent of the Ethiopian New Year in September. However, the Ethiopian Sports Federation will be holding their 31st annual, week-long cultural and sports events in San Jose, and the Ethiopian-American Council (EAC) has asked San Jose city officers to move the flag-raising ceremony to mark the festival events. The Ethiopian Heritage Flag will fly over the San Jose New City Hall during the week-long activities, from July 3 to July 10.

EAC holds the Ethiopian Sports Federation in high esteem for their 31-year longevity, and for their good works in bringing Ethiopian-Americans together within a sporting venue, and promoting Ethiopian heritage and culture.

Flag-Raising Controversy
The last time the Ethiopian Heritage Flag was flown over New City Hall, it brought protests from the Ethiopian Legation in Los Angeles, California and a few Ethiopian citizens. The Heritage Flag does not use a device made up of a yellow star in a blue circle dropped into the middle of the tri-color flag. This type of flag is recognized by the TPLF/EPRDF political parties presently ruling in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian-American Council does not believe the Ethiopian flag should change simply because a certain party holds sway in the country, just as the American flag does not change when a new government is elected and seated in Washington, D.C. The San Jose City Council recognizes the validity of this argument and has stood behind EAC in its use of the Heritage Flag, which does not have the star device. Once again the Ethiopian Heritage Flag will wave over New City Hall.

Importance of the Ethiopian Flag
The Ethiopian Heritage Flag is a three-color banner of green, yellow, and red. Red represents the blood of Ethiopian patriots; yellow, the peace and harmony between Ethiopia’s various ethnic and religious groups; and green symbolizes hope, or the land and its fertility. It does not signify any particular regime or political party. It is most revered by members of the Ethiopian diaspora, especially Ethiopian-Americans. Ethiopian-American institutions, the churches, and the community centers, especially here in San Jose, use the heritage flag.

Flags are supposed to be a source of unity and need not exalt any particular political purpose or program. The tri-color Ethiopian Heritage Flag is a source of identity to all Ethiopians regardless of their political fealty. The Ethiopian flag has never flown under the flag of a conquering colonial power, so it is a symbol of pride to Ethiopians and Ethiopian-Americans, and a symbol of hope for other African nations as they struggle for self-governance and liberty. Many African nations, and some in the Caribbean, have used the unconquered Ethiopian colors in their own flags.

Significance of the Star Device
The star device, used in the current Ethiopian flag by the ruling regime, is not a symbol of unity to many members of the Ethiopian diaspora; and again, that is especially true for many Ethiopian-Americans. Rather, it is seen as a symbol of an oppressive and rapacious ruling elite who have the citizens of Ethiopia in a choke-hold political culture that tramples on human rights and has obliterated freedom of the press, all while wringing the land of its wealth.

Solemn and Celebratory Event
Ethiopians and their friends and families who are coming to San Jose for the festival, Ethiopians who are in the Bay Area are urged to dress in green, yellow, and red and come celebrate with the Ethiopian-American societies and San Jose civic leaders at the flag-raising. Then join them in the festivities that will follow. Ethiopians, Ethiopian-Americans, and friends of Ethiopia will be stirred by this historic event that celebrates the flag, the nation, and the heritage of Ethiopia. Ethiopian-Americans cannot really say they have been to San Jose unless they have attended an Ethiopian Heritage Flag-raising ceremony.

The EAC and the civic leaders of San Jose are inviting all citizens to share in this solemn and celebratory ceremony at New City Hall, located at 200 East Santa Clara Street in San Jose on Thursday, July 3, at 4:00 p.m.