D.S. is my father, who immigrated here from Albania when he was 18 years old. I always remember him telling me a lot when I was growing up, “an Albanian can die, but his oath will not be violated. I called him up and asked him more about where this phrase comes from.

Me: So is there an Albanian phrase that you got this from?

D.S.: Yes, I never really spoke it to you in the Albanian version since you don’t speak the language hahaha, but in Albanian it is Shqiptarët vdesin dhe Besën nuk e shkelin

Me: So where does it come from?

D.S.: The basic premise of the phrase comes from the concept of a Besa which is like a pledge of honor. In Albania, it is essentially an oath or to keep a promise.

Me: So what is a Besa all about? Is it just a word?

D.S.: The basic premise of the concept is to keep your word, as it is the most valuable thing you can offer. If you don’t have your word, then what do you have?

Me: That sounds familiar hahahaha

D.S.: Exactly hahaha, but a besa can come in all sorts of forms, whether it be a promise, your faith, or protecting someone. It is of the utmost importance in Albania, in all aspects of your life. When you give someone your besa, you cannot go back on it. This is how it has always been, and Albanians really pride themselves on it.

It is really important to keep your word. Breaking a besa is one of the worst things you can do that is not a crime. When you make a promise you need to ensure you give all your effort towards that until it’s fulfilled. Otherwise you are untrustworthy and your self-worth is lowered. Being an Albanian, it is important for me to always remember this in my life.