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Tribute by Dr. Menna Demessie

Dr. Getatchew Haile is a name not only for the history books, but for future generations. He is a distinguished, brilliantly fierce scholar who pushed the boundaries of liturgical studies of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and awakened the globe to the rich Coptic Orthodox Christian religion of Ethiopia dating back millenia. Moreover, he was a gentle, kind, loving human being I often heard my mom rave about growing up as she proudly shared our familial connections and histories. His accolades are many, but the pride he gives me, and so many of us, as Ethiopian Americans, is the greatest reward to us all. To our savior Jesus Christ, thank you for blessing this world and my family with this great man of God who embodies the relentless spirit of pride and joy for his country, history, family, culture, religion. Because of him, we are inspired, proud, better educated about our own identities, and unapologetically passionate about preserving our history. Because of Dr. Getatchew, we love the world and the people around us that much more. He made this world a better place by demonstrating love, compassion, faith, and determination in the face of obstacles and pioneered unchartered waters with his scholarship to ensure the biblical history of Ethiopia will never be forgotten. I am grateful, dear Lord, to not only say I know his name, but have been inspired by his constant love and support. I'm eternally grateful to know he believed in me and my personal journey to push the boundaries of my scholarship in political science to better capture the political mobilization of our people in the United States. The day of his memorial service at St. Johns happened to be on July 19, 2021 - the same day the United States acknowledged Juneteenth - or Freedom Day - in celebration of the abolishment of slavery. As I walked towards the church on that glorious day in celebration of Dr. Getachew's life, I smiled because there was no way that was a coincidence. Freedom is what Dr. Getachew believed in, fought for, and sacrificed his life. It felt like his last parting gift to be associated with such a legacy that symbolized his iconic presence in the world. I was sad he was gone, but his spirit has never left us - even with his last breath and everyday of his life - he gave us the precious gift of FREEDOM - freedom to love unapologetically, to explore the world unabashedly, to meet fear with resilience, to be proud with dignified pride, and to do our homework on our history and to share it with the world. He is wisdom, love, and graciousness personified. Gashe Getatchew, I love you and will honor your legacy by being the best I can be in all that I do not only for myself, but for our people. God rest your soul, the world is better because of you. Peace, love, and blessings, Menna Demessie, Ph.D.

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