An Evening with Lucine Kasbarian

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An Evening with Lucine Kasbarian, author of Armenia: A Rugged Land, an Enduring People

Published in Avarayr, Ridgefield, New Jersey

April-June 1998

Avarayr is pleased to bring to the attention of our readers two recent valuable publications, one in English by Lucine Kasbarian (Armenia: A Rugged Land, an Enduring People) and the second in Armenian by Vehanoush Tekian (Dohmadzar or Family Tree). The Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural Association of New Jersey organized special evenings to present these two books, and their authors, to our community. Presenters were Sosy Krikorian-Kadian with her introductory comments and recommendations of Lucine Kasbarian’s work, and Mr. Haroutioun Messerlian shared his impressions and appreciation of Vehanoush Tekian’s book. Both authors are members of Sts. Vartanantz Church. We are happy to congratulate L.Kasbarian and V. Tekian wishing them all the best, new inspirations, and success in the service of our culture and literature in the USA.

By Rev. Khatchadour Boghossian

An Evening with Lucine Kasbarian

author of Armenia: A Rugged Land, an Enduring People

Hosted by Hamazkayin of New Jersey

Sts. Vartanantz Community Center

Saturday May 2, 1998

Introductory Remarks by Sosy Krikorian-Kadian

(Translated from the Armenian)

We parishioners of Sts. Vartanantz call this church our home, just as Armenian churches everywhere are home to us, too.

We Armenians were actually born in 1915. Our lives, as we know them now, began in that year. And now, from the four corners of the world, wherever Armenians have been displaced, wherever they have taken root and forged new lives, they have established a little Armenia. They have carried their homelands in their hearts and created a new Hayastan. And we here have constructed our centers, churches, Saturday and Sunday schools. And in so doing, fabricated a little Armenia for our offspring to grow up in and feel as if they too are children of the Armenian nation, the Armenian creed, and the Armenian church.

We often believe that miracles occurred only in olden times – that they don’t really happen in this day and age. And yet, isn’t it a miracle that we are gathering here today, a group of Armenians, in the year 1998 on Bergen Boulevard, in a building where the Armenian flag is raised beside the American flag, sitting here at a lecture presentation in the Armenian language? We are living in an age of miracles. We see them all around us, in fact. But because there is discontent among us, because we are constantly rushing and seeking immediate gratification, we do not always notice these miracles.

When it was first built, our community decided to name this church Sts. Vartanantz. What an unusual name to others! We brought with us the name, the battle, and the heroes of Vartanantz. And this name lives on in our language and our souls. And Lucine Kasbarian grew up in this church. She was the culmination of “the Diasporan Experiment.” After all, when we were establishing new lives here, we’d ask ourselves, “Will we succeed? What will happen to our children? Will they remain Armenian or not? Let’s see what happens.” After all, our efforts were an experiment. Wherever we went, we established communities and schools, spoke Krapar on our altars, wishing to keep everything Armenian alive … to keep history living.

And Lucine grew up in this community, the daughter of Garabed Kasbarian and Aghavni Hamparian. Garabed, a proud product of Dikranagerd – remembering and recounting the greatness of King Dikran and the Armenian empire he built, and Aghavni, a proud product of Sepastia, remembering and recounting the heroic achievements of Sepastatsi Mourad. Lucine and her brother Antranig received their spiritual nourishment from Garabed and Aghavni, and developed bonds both with who the Armenians have been and who the Armenians are today.

Lucine is a shining portrait – the most successful example of the potential that existed in those children that grew up in this community, one who went to college, achieved success in the American career sector, and took her Armenianness and Armenian spirit with her wherever she went, introducing others to Armenian customs and practices, and finally, publishing a book. She could have written something else, saying “I have a novel in me I just have to write.” But she had Armenia and the Armenian spirit within her. With whomever she spoke, she always wanted to express who the Armenians were, where Armenia was located, and why Armenians came to exist in America.

The Armenians are a remarkable people. Some years ago, I recall reading about a man who settled in Scotland and established a restaurant called Aghtamar in Exile.

What is it we Armenians feel? We are in exile. We have not been separated from our country because we wanted to become wealthier, or had the travel bug in us, eager to see beautiful new lands. We no longer live on our lands because our properties were seized from us, because we were driven out, our people decapitated and told “What will be will be.” Turkey wished to silence the Armenian voice forever. And in the end, not only has Armenia’s voice been heard on our own lands, but this voice now rings from all four corners of the earth, and shall continue to be heard. And this man from Scotland who called his restaurant Aghtamar in Exile rather than Magillicuddy’s Chop House – which would have been much easier to do – shows us what lives in his soul and the soul of our people.

I can tell you that since childhood, Lucine got involved in everything Armenian. She sang in the church choir, attended Nareg Armenian School, participated in the AYF, the Land and Culture Organization, and whatever else there was. But throughout her involvement, she never cast aside the challenges and ambitions in her American life. She is a perfect example of the successful bilingual Armenian in America. She shows us that you can succeed in your profession and take your Armenianness with you, and it becomes richer and better because of it.

Every child who grows up in an Armenian community is raised with the heartbeat of parents who want that child to become an Armenian. We try all kinds of different things. We hope it will work. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t make any difference. It’s still our responsibility to try to achieve this, and to bring forth and stand behind shining girls like Lucine Kasbarian. She was born Armenian, raised Armenian, and remained Armenian. And it is with pride that we have Lucine as a product of our community, and that she is with us here tonight.