Making friends with the sea--These orphan children at Marathon, Greece, were brought from the interior of Asia Minor by the Near East Relief and never saw the sea before | Armenian and Greek orphans standing in sea, Marathon, Greece. Photograph by Near East Relief. George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)
Everybody who has ever met an Armenian may have been told about the Armenian genocide and the story about parents or grandparents who were killed by Turks.
I am also an Armenian and my roots are from Western Armenia.
My grandfather’s father Karapet twice survived from massacres. He was forced to leave Adana during the massacres taking place there in April of 1909 and moved to Constantinople. During the Armenian Genocide in 1915 he escaped to Greece and then with his wife Ester came to what is now Armenia in 1931.
My grandmother’s mother Zaruhi was from Kharpert. Her father with his brothers possessed a factory of silk production, which had a great reputation not only in the Ottoman Turkey, but also in the European markets. The Armenian genocide put an end to their peaceful work. Zaruhi’s father and uncles were killed in front of her eyes, and the Turks took their property and houses. Since she was a beautiful girl, her grandmother scraped mud on her face and dressed her in shabby clothes so as to prevent her from catching the eye of any covetous Turk. She hardly reached the American orphanage, from there moving on to Beirut. She married Vahan from Karin (Erzurum) and came to Armenia in 1947.
While she had a tattoo on her hand, “Armenian” so that she would not forget about her roots when she is older, I was born with a “tattoo” on my heart carrying the pain of my ancestors.
The mass slaughter of over one and half million Armenians was something beyond human imagination.
Shamefully, the political and economic interests of the international community transcended morality, never condemning Turkey for the Armenian genocide to prevent other similar crimes against humanity.
This led to the Nazi leader Hitler saying, “who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” while implementing the invasion of Poland, massacre of Poles and the Holocaust.
The “more speeches, than actions” behavior of the international community paved a way to other genocides and continuation of anti-Semitism and persecutions against Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world.
Despite all this, the Armenians and Jews continue to live and Create with their indomitable will to survive and having a strong faith in the future.
Every year, on the day of commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, April 24th, I feel this with a great conjugation to my ancestors.
And, just as the Jews walked through a difficult ladder of their collective life, overcoming various sufferings, before reaching their desired motherland, Armenians having a similar historical path, should aspire to do the same.
This is what all Armenians in the world keep in their genes and this is what my dream is about.