Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chidem Inch - Descendants of Survivors and Saints

     There are very few Genocide survivors alive at this writing. Those that are still with us are, well, 100 years old or older. They were mostly likely babies or infants when the Genocide happened and probably do not have any memories of those dark days. In a few years, there will be no one that was born in the Armenian villages that are just shadows to the descendants of those survivors. 
     I am the grandson of three Genocide survivors. My maternal grandmother, while Armenian, was actually born in the US. My wife is the granddaughter of four survivors. All our grandparents have passed away. In essence, in our family, our direct link to those times and our Armenian homeland are gone. Yet, we feel the pain, the lack of closure, and the injustice of what was done 100 years ago. It is a collective we as well. Every Armenian community in the world are planning commemorative activities this month leading up to April 24th and as a kickoff to a year of events and activities. Social media is full of sentiments, testimonies, and reactions to the Kardashians, the Pope, the Armenian Catholicoi, and, of course, the Turkish President and Prime Minister.
     I live in the US. Since coming here, our family and the families of most survivor immigrants have done well. Their children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren are thriving. We have lives as good or better than those survivors would have dreamed for us. Yet, amid all of this good, we carry the hurt, sorrow, angst, anger, and sense of injustice and outrage that is transmitted from generation to generation. Why is that?
     Certainly, we do not feel it in the same way as our the survivors did. We cannot fathom what they went through and how they survived eventually migrating with nothing to this country. They got jobs, got married, had families, and built Armenian communities to both have some sense of familiarity and some sense of preserving what was so suddenly and brutally ripped away from them.
     These survivors reared my parents generation who in turned bore and reared my generation of Armenians. Maybe it is as simple as that. Maybe whatever we are all feeling, collectively, around the US and around the world is just because we are children and grandchildren of that surviving generation and that has become part of our collective psyche that gets transmitted and filtered from generation to generation.
      I want to say that it is profoundly strong and powerful simply because it is profoundly strong and powerful in me and others I see around me. It is not universal because I know peers who have drifted quite easily and freely into an American lifestyle without the burden of this history. I do not believe I can or would even want to live any other way. I guess I am saying that it is ingrained in me. It is ingrained in us. Witness a post by my contemporary Stepan Piligian on Facebook on April 14 referring to the canonization of the martyrs of 1915 on April 23rd:
To think, in 9 days we may all be sons and daughters, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of Saints of the Armenian Church. What a blessing.

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