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For My Discouraged Friends

By Tina Attashian

During the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide all Armenians get their chance to voice how they feel about the issue. Unfortunately, many Armenians have lived in the United States for so long that some of today’s generation is not able to speak out in their cultural language. As His Holiness Karekin I explained, being Armenian is not just knowing the language, it is also the spirit within the heart of the person which gives them that unique quality of being Armenian.

How do we learn the Armenian language? Is it not primarily taught in the home by our family? What happens when the family does not know Armenian? How are the children supposed to know how to speak Armenian? Are they supposed to be taught in school? At Fresno State we are privileged with the Armenian Studies Program that offers a language class. But what happens to those that do not have such an opportunity? The topic of the existence of the Armenian language in a foreign country, such as the United States, is one filled with extreme emotions. As Armenians, it is our duty to keep our culture alive, and teaching our language is only one part of getting this accomplished. It is also our duty to be unified and not to strike one another.

This year some of the Armenian students from Fresno State (members of ASO) read a variety of poetry in honor of the remembrance of those who were massacred in 1915. They were read in English, and to my great discomfort people were dissatisfied with the program because there was no poetry read in Armenian. Not only were these students offended but hurt to know that their own people condemned them, and seeing my fellow classmate shed tears made me want to voice my opinion and write this article. Those who read poetry were examples of young Armenians who are proud of their existence fighting for recognition and mourning for those who were massacred. Are the spirits of these Armenians who read poetry any different than an Armenian that can speak our language? We are all Armenians fighting and struggling for the same goals. We must support one another and encourage one another. When another fellow Armenian falls give your hand and help lift him up.

For my discouraged friends remember that April 24th is not to make other people happy, but to mourn for those who were massacred, to express our pride for our existence, and to make our voices heard and get the recognition we as Armenians deserve.