Victory Day Celebrations Marred by Protests, Tensions is one of the retrospective articles prepared by CDN members to illustrate the events and changes that occurred during the year following the Reaper War.
Victory Day Celebrations Marred by Protests, Tensions
Jan Lee Oliver, Alliance News Network
LONDON - A year ago, the streets of London, New York, Tokyo, Moscow, and Sydney were decimated war zones. Today, reconstruction, while still slow, has restored them to former glories - flags from around the world are draped across these streets to fly in celebration, as the Systems Alliance hosts the first annual Victory Day, marking one year - to the day - since the end of the Reaper occupation of Earth and the known galaxy.
Celebrations, however, were marred by demonstrations, as activists took to the streets to protest the presence of salarian and asari speakers during the festivities, with many believing the two races had no right to speak on a war they barely contributed to. The two Council races were notably left out of the galactic defense pact made between Earth, Palaven, and Tuchanka, which has been straining relationships between the Council seats. Racial tensions on Earth, centered significantly against the salarian populace, has lead to a moving speech by Dalatress Narra, who hoped to promote peace between the two races, and remind people of the purpose behind Victory Day - where all races united under a single banner to defeat their enemies.
In Jakarta, local law enforcement was startled by a riot that broke out during scheduled events, when members of the local Sovereign Nation chapter clashed with Alliance marines and supporters of “Shepards,” a galaxy-wide charity for orphans and refugees that has gained a religious following since the attack on Earth. Sovereign Nation’s international leader, Lucien Bradford, later claimed in a statement released to his followers that such oppression against those who worshipped the “great gods” should not be unexpected from those who had tried to defend them, and “not see the Alliance as the victors, but merely as fools who will never know the peace that logical order can bring to the chaos of life.”
While the clashes may have been considered minor, Admiral Hackett’s long-awaited speech in London was rescheduled, as the Admiral was escorted off world to an unspecified location to address crowds across the world via holo projection. London’s Prefect, Lieutenant Commander Lisa Bryner, addressed crowds during the scheduled time-slot instead, assuring spectators that while there was no reason to be concerned of the events in Jakarta being repeated in London, they had gone ahead with the decision to move the Admiral, “just in case.” Upon a successful connection, the Admiral was greeted by standing ovations in New York, London, Seattle-Vancouver, and Tokyo.
Key points of his speech included the announcement of several Mass Relays being reopened to the Sol System, gratitude for the tireless efforts of the reconstruction teams, encouragement for those who suffered most, and repeated well wishes to “our non-human guests, who could not be on their own worlds tonight.” Noticeably absent from the Admiral’s speech was a progress update on the reconstruction of the Systems Alliance civilian government, which has once again sparked rumors that the Alliance has no plans to remove the worldwide martial law and return power to the Terran governments once a civilian government has been formed. Supporters note that the Admiral’s “five year plan” is barely into its first year, and that it would be “such a shame to mar the good mood with mundane progress reports.”
The festivities ended at dusk in each country, where the Alliance scheduled full blackouts for the candlelight vigil to be held for Commander Shepard. Earth was shrouded in darkness for thirty-two minutes - one minute for each year of the Commander’s life - although pictures from the Citadel show breathtaking images of brightly lit cities. Among those gathered on the ground were followers of the “Shepard Lives” extranet site, who have spent the past several months predicting that the Commander would return to Earth on the one-year anniversary.
Names of the dead and missing were read out in most cities, the list of over 1.5 billion people shortened to local levels to save time, and flowers littered mass graves in Los Angeles, with heartwarming tributes paid to not only the Commander, but Reporter Emily Wong, who risked her life to break the news of the invasion on Earth and get vital information to the rest of the galaxy. Ms. Wong, who was fatally injured during her report, used her last moments to override the commands of her newsvan and fly it into a Reaper at FTL speeds, and the Prefect of Los Angeles declared a moment of silence in her memory while standing on the now-rebuilt UCLA campus.
Tributes were paid across the galaxy to other celebrity heroes who had lost their lives in the Reaper War. Admiral David Anderson, among several others, was posthumously awarded the Star of Terra, the Alliance’s highest military honour during a ceremony on the Citadel. Children on Eden Prime offered flowers to a visiting turian officer, whose homeworld of Macedyn nuked itself in a defiant attempt to defeat the Reapers attacking it.
On Terra Nova, where a statue of Commander Shepard already exists for her efforts to counter the batarian terrorist attack five years ago, a memorial service was held for her, presided over by Director-General Admiral Wajeeh Eswara. The Director praised Shepard’s actions, and declared - with the full authority of the Alliance behind him - that April 11th has been declared a galactic holiday for all of humanity, where her sacrifice will never be forgotten, and “the future given as a gift by this great woman shall be treated as a sacred gift.”
The speech, laced with reported religious overtones, and “over-the-top praises” sparked an outrage amongst the non-religious, which make up a majority of the colonist population, who believe that the raising Shepard to the status of a saint (as has already been proposed by cardinals of the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XVIII has yet to comment.) by state figures is yet one more oppression offered by the Alliance’s military law. As June Sun, a political activist blogger, wrote, “Shepard is a legend yes, and her sacrifices cannot be forgotten...but no person should be lawfully elevated by the military state as a religious figure. It is the job of the Church to decide if Shepard is worthy of sainthood, not the people."
The Alliance released a press release afterwards, apologizing for Rear Admiral Eswara’s faux pas, and reiterating that the Admiral’s beliefs were not necessarily reflective on the Systems Alliance as a whole.
Sadly, while Shepard sightings and impersonators were at a record high today, the legendary woman did not make an appearance, and her supporters left their vigils disappointed, but with some hope, as one six-year-old boy put it: “Maybe she’ll come back on her birthday, when we throw her a real party!”
As rumors fly about the final day of the war, and questions of why it took so long for Earth to get the support they needed are starting to be loudly raised, one hopes that the return of Commander Shepard, however mythical, can sate the public’s demand for answers.
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