100 years…

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Armenian Genocide Mural in Hollywood by Art Gozuk @ArtViaArt

Today I am taking a break from the usual with a dedication to my ancestors who were the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. 100 years of remembrance but also denial.  In 1915, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by Ottoman Turks in efforts to exterminate the Armenian Race from their homeland. We need to remember and acknowledge this tragedy. As Pope Francis said, it is “necessary, and indeed a duty,” to remember the Armenians killed, “for whenever memory fades, it means that evil allows wounds to fester. Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!” This says it all,  Yes, it’s been 100 years and no we will not just get over it.  This is my family, this is my heritage, this is a part of me!

I want to share something that my Dad wrote not too long ago.  He was lucky enough to meet his grandfather who was very open to his family about his struggles during the genocide. My great-grandfather was the only survivor from his family of 60. This is his story…

“I’m the grandson of a six year old genocide survivor that unfortunately passed away in 1961 from brain cancer resulting from a lightning strike in 1915 while he was riding his horse in a thunderstorm, trying to get away from the “Young Turks” that had murdered his entire family of 60.

My grandfather, Mahak Pelenghian was thrown off his horse and was presumed dead.  A group of Turks found him and buried him in the soil so that the Earth would pull the electricity out of his 6 year old body.  While he was buried up to his neck, a Turkish woman found him, fed him and hydrated him for 3 days until he was well. The Turkish woman raised my Grandfather until the age of 13 when he was considered a “man”  and therefore had to leave her home so she can keep her honor and for her friends and family not to talk.

My grandfather or “Tatalica” as I used to call him, found his way to Bucharest, Romania and made a name for himself. He married my grandmother Armenuhi when he was in his early 20’s and became a pillar in the Armenian community. They raised my Mother and Uncle and then finally in 1960, after many years of trying to leave Romania, were allowed to immigrate to Beirut, Lebanon for a year as a standby to his final destination, Los Angeles.  He unfortunately passed 6 weeks after breathing in the Los Angeles air.

This is only a story of a single man. These types of stories are in our hearts and minds of every living Armenian. Now with the 100th Anniversary, I can’t help but wonder when will the world ever come together and condemn Turkey for what happened 100 years ago? Haven’t we waited long enough? Haven’t we been lied to enough? Our political leaders ask for the Armenian vote while campaigning and promising that if elected they will make sure the atrocities of 1915 will be acknowledged. However, once they are elected everyone seems to somehow suffer from Amnesia. As it has been said by our Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan, the Armenian genocide not being recognized by the entire world has caused all the other subsequent genocides to take place. The time has come, the time is now!” – Zareh Narghizian

I will always remember the victims and survivors including my great grandparents and grandparents.  If it wasn’t for their strength, pride & passion, I wouldn’t be here today. Today, of all days, I am proud of who I am and where I come from.

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