The Fifty-Second Army Anniversary
By: General Michel Aoun
(Translated by: Elias Bejjani)

My people, people of great Lebanon, our army celebrates its 52nd anniversary today. Sadly, this event became a memory after we lost our country and the symbols that the army personifies in the areas of sovereignty, dignity and independence. Today, we celebrate this event with broken hearts due to the fact that our holy land is occupied, our national decision-making process is confiscated, and our people are hungry for bread, dignity and freedom.

We wanted an army to defend you, the people, and guard the Lebanese Holy Land. We do not want an army that protects the regime, or worse, only exists to prevent it from falling.

We wanted an army for the people of Lebanon, an army that believes in the foundation of democracy and safeguards the ongoing changes in Lebanese society.

We want an army that respects the democratic principles of free elections, and the power and scope of government power within this democratic process.

We want an army that promotes freedom and peace for all Lebanese, and protects the values of interaction that takes place among them.

To achieve all this, we must thoroughly and clearly perceive the current situation of our military institution - the army. We must try to distinguish right from wrong in an open and forthright manner. . . We have to train ourselves to be courageous, to recognize what is wrong, and to never embrace it as right.

My fellow people of Lebanon, it is our patriotic responsibility to clearly ask where the army stands now in the matter of fulfilling and implementing these national obligations. Personally, and in spite of my thorough and updated knowledge of what the current situation is, I shall refrain from giving a clear cut opinion and leave the judgement and answers to you. You are living the hardships on a daily basis and experiencing its effects directly. Accordingly, I will ask you to answer some questions, answer them for yourselves, and by yourselves:

Is our army still protecting national unity as was the case in older days when each soldier was baptized through the trials of blood and fire, or has it become an assembly of scattered, divided groups with no ties or objectives?

Is our army free on its own land, or it has become subordinate to another force that occupies the country?
Is our army an institution of security and defense, or it has become an institution of services and special assignments, as an official stated lately?
Is our army providing security and peace, or it has become solely an agent of oppression and persecution?
Is our army an army for all the Lebanese people, or it has become an army of divisions, parties and officials?

My people of Lebanon, your answer to the above simple questions will surely indicate where the military institution in occupied Lebanon currently stands, and where it should be.

With my best regards, and hoping that you stand in the right place,

Yours truly
Michele Aoun
August 1/1997