Hello! Nice of you to stop in.
About me: I'm 49 as of Nov. 27, 2008, half Armenian. For more about my life, read further down. For now, I'm going to introduce my family and history, and rant a bit by way of explaining why the Genocide still matters today.
My mother is very much a WASC (White Anglo Saxon Catholic). My father's father was born in Samson, his wife in Dickranagerd. When my grandparents were just children, the Turks betrayed their neighboring Armenia and slaughtered a million and a half of my people in a documented attempt to exterminate us. My great-grandparents on my father's side were killed in that brutal massacre. Near-East Relief, an English orphanage, took in my grandmother. My grandfather did not look distinctively Armenian and was able to conceal his Armenian ancestry. He remained in Turkey as a boy, able to keep his deadly secret because he was fluent in Turkish. The pressure of living in such secrecy amongst the people who had murdered his parents and 8 siblings would be inconceivable for most of us today.
By the early 1920s he had saved enough money to relocate to France, where he met my grandmother, who had by then come to Paris by way of Marseilles. In Paris, my grandfather started a men's clothing store after WW2. In the late 1950's my parents met, in Chicago, IL, and were married. My father's parents sold the business then, and came from to Chicago from France with my 16 year old aunt, Zabelle, to be with their son, and other daughter, Noel, and to meet my mother, their new daughter-in-law. There they remained until their deaths. My grandfather passed away on on Jan. 1, 1986 , and my grandmother has been gone since Sept. 13, 1993.
There are a very few others with this family name. I can recall an uncle from my childhood, a scientist who worked in Chicago, but I don't think I met him more than twice. There was some car company representative in France, but he either never received, or declined to reply to, my email. There have been a couple others with VERY similar anglicized spellings, but no contact with them.
People today say that the Genocide attempt was a long time ago, that it doesn't matter any more, that we should move on, forget about it, let it go, that it's just the way things go, the spoils of war... the excuses to not own up and stand up against it are endless. I feel they are rooted in embarrassment. If it is acknowledged, then they must also admit that they did nothing to stop it. The Turks' motive is the same as it always was. They wanted to be free from the debt that they had incurred with us, and they wanted our land.
Our land? That little spot at the far western edge of the former USSR? Uhm, no. How about the entire eastern half of a rather large landmass now known as Turkey. I've seem maps from before 1915, examined the jagged line that bisected Turkey, ran from north to south between the two nations. What is now the eastern half of Turkey is fertile soil, with beautiful mountain glades, climates and terrains from alpine to the Mediterranean at our southern shores. That region, which we had occupied for at least 6000 years, holds the Biblical place where the Tigress meets the Euphrates, recorded as the location of the Garden of Eden. It's the resting place of Noah's Ark. Today's Armenia is a small fingerprint on the map, compared with what was taken from us.
Betrayal by the Turks, whom we'd considered good and friendly neighbors for centuries, was painful. That they continue to deny or excuse it to this day, this precludes any forgiveness or healing. I can't blame the Turkish youths of today, because their government has indoctrinated them, filled their heads with notions that we were subservient to the Turkish Empire, and revolting against their authority. The facts tell otherwise, and Turkey remains the ONLY one which insists that it never happened. Wonder why?
People say it doesn't matter... but they've not suffered the losses. If they're of German descent, they can go to Germany, see their heritage. If they're recently foreign, they can go back and live there (as I would do, if the old Armenia were still there for me to return to.) They still have those choices.
They say it was a long time ago. That's a very short vision they have. Not yet 100 years ago even, since my ancestors were left to rot in unmarked graves, lied to, murdered by these barbarians. We Armenians have our own Trail of Tears. The wives and families of young men who had enlisted in the Turkish Army (as young men are prone to do) were told that they were being transferred south, and would meet up with their husbands there. Then they were mercilessly marched within a quarter of a mile of the Euphrates river, but not allowed to drink. Those who objected were butchered with swords, children ripped from their arms, and those arms hacked off from their bodies. Most died along the trail. The sad truth was that their husbands never got even that far. They had been lined up and shot, left to rot in shallow graves, before their wives and children even left.
Less than one hundred years ago this happened. For thousands of years, we had lived peacefully in the same place. When the Romans came, we were left to govern ourselves in peace. Same with the Greeks. Those great warriors only wanted tribute and to be able to say that they had conquered the then-known world. But the Turks were true barbarians, making their living by murdering as they had done since they came down from the Steppes. Having run out of land to pillage, we were what was left. But rather than an honest battle, they used betrayal and deceit to steal our homelands from us, to kill off our ancestors... to try to prevent my very existence.
If someone had tried to kill your grandparents, tried to see that you were never even born, would YOU forget?
They say that it doesn't matter anymore, and that there's nothing to be done. It DOES matter. Orphans don't grow up the same way as a regular family does... and that legacy is handed down, from generation to generation. We are still affected today. After all, it has only been a hundred years, and it had been half that when I was born.
Nothing to be done? It seems simple enough to me. They stole what was not theirs. Now they must give it back. It's not like they're doing much with the land anyway. It provides them with crop and revenue - food and money which, by all rights, is ours. A place to call Home which is ours... a beautiful place with a great deal of potential. They could easily cede it back to us, do the right thing, and end this 100 years of war and hatred and suffering. I would very much like to live in Armenia, but I will not go there as a supplicant, begging permission from the hand of my great-grandparents' murderers.
Do I seem angry? I certainly have right to be. But I don't live all that angry. We continue. We enjoy our foods, embrace what remains of our culture, and some of us even live side by side with Arabs and other Muslims. You see, it never was about religion. Most Muslims really do allow choice of religion, and practice tolerance. It is primarily the Turks, who bastardized their own Whirling Dirvish culture when they integrated that into Islam, who whored out their ancestry and beliefs for the benefits that the spreading Islam had to offer. And yet I get along with some Turks and most Muslims today. In all of that time, with the Iranians our nearest neighbors, with the Greeks and Arabs about us, none of them had tried to steal our lands or exterminate us.
They murdered my great-grandparents, and tried to see to it that I would never exist. That is reason enough in itself. Let us never forget.
Okay, end of rant. About me: Trained in biology and medicine, I've taken other paths with my life. A professional writer, I have published fiction, worked as a journalist, and do a lot of ghost-writing for a wide variety of clients. Together with a good friend and partner, we provide SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services, original content designed for that purpose, web hosting, etc. But I wear a number of other hats as well. I'm involved in Alternative Energy solutions, Green construction, play guitar and other stringed instruments (as did my paternal grandfather), and keyboards, write and sing my own music. Some of my travels have involved living in West Africa while working with predatory animals, trapping and importing raptors (birds of prey) to the States for captive breeding efforts. I'm a Master-class falconer, and have been practicing Aikido for many years. Skiing, surfing, sailing, and aviation are amongst my hobbies. I'm currently living near Taos, New Mexico, with my canine companion, a Bouvier Des Flandres. Politically independent, and primarily libertarian in thinking, I was pleased to vote for Barack Obama and look forward to the end of the Bush regime.
Feel free to use this Talk page to ask questions or add your thoughts and comments. Please spare me the sentiments of Turkish apologists, though. This is MY page, my space, and I don't care to hear any of the excuses.
Make yours a great day!