By Jacqueline Arikian
We must grieve. We have been told to do so; we have been told to do it with passion…a grieving passion. A passion of hatred perhaps, one that lurks within the depths of our souls against the very people who corrupted our nature, the very people who exterminated our ancestors. A passion of sadness perhaps, for all those innocent souls who perished in 1915. A passion for something that is gone and remains only as a memory. Yet we, in a rather petty way, hold onto it, not in a form of sadness, but rather, in a form of bitterness towards something that we will never be able to change.
And so, we, as the American-Armenian youth, must stand back and ask ourselves, what is to become of all the commemorating? What is to become of the anger that we perpetually bring forward? What do we expect to acknowledge? Is it the honesty? The confession? The remembrance through a holiday? What does it matter? What does it honestly matter? We can read our poems, we can get together as a whole, and we can remember, but it will not change what happened. It will not change the fact that 2.5 million Armenians were massacred in 1915 by the Turks, people with whom we are still bitter. People, who in reality, do not know us and who did not harm us, but remain, rather, as a continuum of the hostility, of the slack they must take from their ancestry. And realistically, this does not matter.
We as Armenians, have suffered throughout time. We have been victims of war and the sacrifice of massacres. And despite all the agony, all the torturous agony we have received as Christians, nothing has changed. We remain the same…and will remain the same.
We can protest and march and make our voices heard every year on April 24, and that is all that will become of it. We will be people, bound together by history, a history that we have been programmed to have passion for. However, we will only be recognized briefly for being a group voicing themselves, a small group of people speaking of the hell their forefathers experienced. And others will not remember, nor will they acknowledge, for that is the way, the way it has been and the way it will remain.
If that is true, however, then what will become of us? What will become of our agony and our anguish? What will become of our historic pain? It has already become. We have been bound by our tragedy and remain unified. William Saroyan once wrote “I should like to see any power in this world destroy this race; this small tribe of unimportant people whose wars have been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, whose literature is unread, whose music is unheard and whose prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy this race! Destroy Armenia! See if you can do it. Send them away from their homes into the desert. Let them have neither bread nor water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not live again, see if they will not sing and pray again. For, when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a new Armenia.” The wonderful words of Saroyan speak loudly to us, for despite the efforts towards our destruction, we have come together.
Coming together. That is what it is all about. It’s about our link to ourselves and each other. It’s about keeping our history alive, and in that process we must hurt and we must be angered. We must be in order to understand, in order to feel the passion. We must march and commemorate in order to educate. The question then remains in who we are to educate, the answer being the obvious. It begins with educating the youth who live in oblivion, progressing to educating our communities, and eventually moves on to national and international acknowledgment.
And in the midst of our efforts, we will suffer with our internal sadness, for in a sense, that is all we have left. We do not need to be told to feel the grieving passion, for it lurks within us. It lurks within us because we know the truth and have heard the abominable cries of terror. These cries are clearly heard through all the stories and all the visions. And it’s important to hear those cries in order to understand the heinous crimes of the ruthless Turks.
Adolf Hitler once said “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” We do. We as Armenians do. If we do not, our silence will eventually kill others, just as the Turks once killed us.