After thirteen nebulous years as a citizen of the former USSR, I remember with pride and no prejudice the early days of my life as a reinstated citizen of my country. I was proud to again say, “I am an American.”
I shall not take up your valuable time to count the ways I am indebted to those who helped me get back to my family. The circumstances in which this all came about in itself have remained locked up in mind and memory.
After touring around the country, giving numerous talks to share my time in the USSR…an American under 13 years of Soviet Rule…many have asked – no demanded – that I finish the story. While “The Repatriate” accounts for my time as an Armenian-American repatriate during the time of Stalin, it seems that curiosity remains for what happened upon my return to America.
In unison, it has been asked, “What happened after you came back. You have left us, abandoned us…surely there is more to tell…”
First, let it be clear I am not a malcontent. I love my country. I have lived under despotic rule and Americans should never lose sight that the loss of liberty is worse than death. Death is final. Tyranny! Unlawful arrests! Lack of due process! Torture! Dehumanization! Informers! For little or no reason, one can be shoved on a truck, driven to a train station, tossed in a cattle car, where you have no space or room to breathe, no water, food, or somewhere to pee, except in your pants. Human beings… dehumanization, treated worse than cattle driven to the slaughter fields and houses. Those who live, who dread each dawn, are but dust in the hands of their guards who can blow them away at their will.
Is it any wonder that we, here, in America are the envy of the world!
In the twilight of my life, I live in serenity. The past is but an apparition, appearing now and then to remind me of the ghosts who are but ghosts now. Unlike the past, there is no fear of retaliation for the words I utter on a telephone, or in public, or what I write.
I have read the Constitution. I do know my rights now. Unfortunately, after the Iron Curtain meltdown, and upon my arrival in America, I learned that ignorance is not bliss. The FBI taught me a civics lesson that to this day I have not forgotten.
Joe McCarthy may have been dead…but McCarthyism was still alive and well when my plane touched the landing strip at Metropolitan Airport in Detroit in July 1960.
Little did I know that FBI agents were standing there in the shadows, looking at this strange man, with one suitcase, dressed in a double-breasted wool suit, penniless waiting, hoping, praying that someone knew of my arrival. That young man had information they wanted…or was a “Manchurian Candidate”. I soon would learn that I was “a person of interest” to the FBI, and would discover that I also was not out of the KGB’s reach.
Now I have come to another one of those crossroads in life…it’s a “should I or shouldn’t I” situation. Which road should I follow?
When a friend asked a CIA employee…Does Tom Mooradian have a file with you?”
The answer was, “One moment please.” Then, “Oh, yes, he has.” Then, silence. “If he wishes to obtain the information he will have to apply.”
Now my question to my readers: SHOULD I APPLY FOR THE DOSSIER? I leave it to you.
Tom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess. Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!