All posts by Tom

In the beginning…

US Capitol Building
Photo courtesy of
Stephen Melkisethian and Flickr under the Creative Commons License

Month by month, state by state, seventeen of the United States’ most brilliant political and business icons provided the American electorate a brief history of themselves to convince the voters that they had the solutions to this nation’s ills and were best qualified to lead this country for the next four years.

Only time will tell.

To quote the veritable statesman Adlai E. Stevenson, “In America, anyone can become president. That’s one of the risks you take.” (Stevenson was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for president in 1952 and 1956.)

This primary season’s elite cadre of 17 Republicans included candidates who have served our country as governors and US senators; one who is the brother of and the son of two former presidents and another who was also a religious leader. There was an ex-CEO of a major corporation and a billionaire who has distinguished himself as a builder of hotels and casinos, as well as the host of a popular TV show. In addition, this historic group included a brilliant pediatric neurosurgeon.

For almost a year now, the nation has heard and read of these and tolerated the Republican candidates: Their names are familiar to most of us: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasick, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.

Most of us looked forward to the Republican debates, expecting to find substance and gather information about the candidates’ credentials that would lead to solving our problems. Unfortunately – no, that is too innocent a word – tragically proved to be nothing but a sham!

It was a shameful, dishonorable, embarrassing, humiliating show by would-be candidates whose shabby political ignorance was echoed, not only here throughout our beloved nation, but heard in every corner of this earth.

They not only slandered their colleagues, but raised the ire of women and even children in the use of their foul and shallow language. Candidates spoke in the most unconventional way; often not completing sentences. Those sentences lacked substance, digressed from the questions, issues and solutions to this nation’s myriads of problems. Instead of concrete and direct answers to questions, they gave fraudulent responses, attempting to mask their ignorance with dangling participles left floating in the air.

And in this notable lot who, under pressure, collapsed were the young, good-looking, presentable and articulate, Marco Rubio, senator from Florida, and Dr. Ben Carson, the soft-spoken physician whose gifted hands saved the lives of hundreds of children and opened the way to groundbreaking medical advancements, the director of the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital’s pediatric neurosurgery. There was John Kasick, the Governor of Ohio, who described himself as “one of the chief architects” of the last balanced budget. Ted Cruz, a Harvard graduate who has argued cases before the US Supreme Court, who would spank “naughty” children, who advocated that “Children should be seen and not heard,” manipulated factoids and offered them up as facts. This learned scholar, disavowing any knowledge of the events, employed campaign consultants who spread false information that Dr. Carson had suspended his campaign in Iowa, when he had not; that Gov. Kasick had agreed to suspend his campaign in Indiana so that the Texas senator could challenge Trump one-on-one, when he had not.

This 2016 Republican group has been fodder for today’s press and will continue to be for future political writers of history.

Did I forget something or someone?

Of course not.

There is one…Donald Trump…the only one left standing of the elite 17, whose caustic tongue cut down his rivals one by one.

I personally would like to see Trump in the Oval Office. Wait, please, bear with me. I believe it will be a farce and the news media will have material for years to write and talk about. Much has been said and written about the billionaire who wantonly, slanderously cuts down anything and anybody who stands in his path.

If ignorance is bliss, then Trump must be a happy man. He is definitely unique in the history of American politics.

It appears, as the saying goes, “What you see is what you get!” But I wonder…all of us wear masks to a greater or lesser degree at times. Trump’s immediate circle of family, friends, political strategists, and advisors have assured us that the Mr. Trump seen on the political stage and on his reality show isn’t the real Mr. Trump. They maintain that the future builder of the Great Wall is passionate, virtuous, lovable, and a champion of the people, as proven by the numbers who have supported him at the voting booths in the majority of the states.

“Mr. Trump will be presidential,” they say, “once he and his beautiful wife are awarded the keys to the White House.” So, friends and foes will embrace this Republican Adonis, whom they believe will soon “Make American Great, Again!”

Yet his stage persona mirrors the painting of Dorian Gray, created by the fictional Basil Hallward, of Oscar Wilde’s imagination. Who has the key to the attic, where we can see the true nature of the man or beast, where good and evil stand side-by-side? That evil and that good is in all of us.

Now there is one.

But, look to the horizon…there is more to come.

***

bookTom 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!

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Tears of joy

Ararat-Eskijian
It would be my first of seven talks in California that I would give on The Cold War and my recently published book, “The Repatriate: Love Basketball and the KGB”. Our first stop was Mission Hills, a serene senior citizens community that has a notable museum, the Ararat Eskijian, on its spacious and plush site.

After describing some of the hardships that Soviets and Armenian American repatriates faced daily, the long bread lines, the night vigils at stores waiting for them to open in hopes of finding sugar or butter or any edible items in the morning to place on the table for their families, I spotted an elderly woman in the crowd with tears in her eyes. I continued with my talk, though I paused briefly to tell the woman that my story did have a happy ending – that I actually survived 13 years in the USSR. She smiled, but one could see torment on her face.

I was not there to arouse anger, or pity, or any other emotion…I was there to provide information about a group of 151 Armenian Armenians who in 1947 made history by returning to their ancestral lands, controlled by the Soviets at the time, to help rebuild a war-torn nation, a nation that was, incidentally, an ally to the USA during World War II.

“There was a lot of disinformation spread on both sides of the Atlantic,” I told the gathering. “The US was also eager to stop the repatriation of Armenians to a country with which it was now locked in an ideological war. I produced an article published in 1951 in a prominent Armenian publication that noted that the Soviets seized from Armenian Americans all their cars, refrigerators, stoves, and valuable possessions upon landing on Soviet soil. That was not true.

“But, after a month in the Soviet Union, living in fear of the secret police, and hungry, most repatriates would have gladly given up all of their possessions if the Soviets would have granted them exit visas.”

Shortly after my talk, the woman whose eyes betrayed her emotions, came up to me, hugged and kissed me on my cheeks – a typical Armenian greeting. She apologized for interrupting the talk, “You see, Mr. Mooradian, I was 11 at the time. My father had also decided to take us on that first ship, but my mother told him he could go but she and her two daughters would not leave America. We stayed here. I have heard many rumors and stories about what happened, but you have given me a first-hand account. I thank God that we stayed here. And I truly am sorry or what you and the others had to go through.”

***

bookTom 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!

 

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The American Who Died at Chernobyl

Nuclear Power Plant Chernobyl
Image courtesy of Alex Ugalek and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We attended college together, were in some of the same classes, but I played basketball and he became an outstanding Soviet track and field coach.

I chose freedom and America in the end, but he loved to coach children and, though given the opportunity to return to his native land, Bobby M. chose to remain in the Soviet Union. I was told that he never regretted it.

But, Bobby, whose mother was of Polish extraction and his father, an Armenian, joined his family on that fateful November day in 1947 to travel to what was then Soviet Armenia. We would talk briefly on The Rossia, the Soviet passenger ship that carried more than one hundred and fifty Armenian-Americans to the USSR, many repatriating to their homeland. Most passengers on that ship stayed close to family; I had none accompanying me.

Once in Yerevan, the capital, Bobby enrolled in the Institute of Physical Culture. I was later to join him there.

Upon graduation, he taught at an elementary school and also coached track teams. I went on to play basketball for the next decade. Our paths seldom crossed. In July of 1960 my US citizenship and passport were restored and I left the USSR as fast as I could pack my luggage.

During one of my many book talks in the eastern United States, Bobby’s sister, who managed to return to the states, attended. When I inquired about her brother, she said that he had died in the Soviet Union, then offered this tragic story of the events leading up to his death.

On April 26, 1986, Bobby’s young team members were warming up to compete in track and field events near Chernobyl. News was spreading that a disaster had happened at the nuclear plant. “Not to worry, the officials had everything under control.” Unfortunately that, like most information generated by Party officials, was a lie. Clouds of deadly radioactive particles soon hovered on the skyline. But the games continued. The nuclear reactor accident at the Chernobyl station in the Ukraine would eventually claim thousands of lives, including Bobby’s.

According to news reports: in seconds the protective casing on the nuclear reactor melt-down released deadly radiation into the air, spreading radioactive isotopes throughout the power plant.

Even today former residents in the Chernobyl plant area have not, cannot, return to their homes because of nuclear contamination. No one can tell them when it will be safe to live or plant crops there again. Everything in the immediate area of the plant remains as it was on that fateful day that shocked the world. Yesterday, in our local newspaper, there was a news photo of a farmer in Belarus, also a former Soviet Republic, who complained that radioactive material is still being detected in his herd of cows and the milk is contaminated.

Thirty years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl remains a threat to civilization. And we add to this threat.

After fourscore and seven on this planet, a ride that I have truly enjoyed, I, as every man, woman and child, must be wary of politicians who promise us paradise one day by “making great deals” and the next day say that nuclear weapons will remain on the table. Think about Chernobyl. Think about Japan. Nuclear fallout is still threatening humankind.

It was the English essayist William Hazlitt who noted, “The love of liberty is the love of others, the love of power is the love of ourselves.”

In the final analysis, Bobby M., the only American to die because of the Chernobyl accident, died doing what he loved best…teaching Soviet children that the love of freedom is the love of others, no matter where you made your first step in life.

***

bookTom 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!

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A Visit to American House

Moscow Visit
During one of my many visits to Moscow I had met and befriended a Michigan State University language professor who, after listening to my story, asked whether he could be of any assistance to me. I asked if possible, would he contact my parents and tell them that I am in good health and in good spirits.

The professor, probably in his forties, who taught Russian (Slavic Languages) said that he would gladly carry the news back home. “Anything else?”

I thought for a moment, “No. Not really.”

He said he would be attending a program at the American House the following evening and asked if I would be his guest. I was flabbergasted by his invitation, and initially refused the generous offer. I had heard about the exclusive building from my Soviet friends and knew that it was a building that the KGB had in its sights twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. To get into the building, one had to produce an American passport. I again thanked the professor and reminded him that, though born in the United States, I did not have an American passport and was considered by the Soviets to be a Soviet, not an American, citizen.

“You would be my guest,” the professor repeated. “I don’t think the Soviets would want to create a scene on what is considered American property.”

That remark piqued my curiosity. If I was on US property could the Soviets demand that the Americans hand me over to them? I had had my run-ins with Stalin’s NKVD and Khrushchev’s KGB and was still standing on my two feet. I told the professor I was ready to risk it, if he was.

Although the professor spoke Russian fluently, I felt certain that he was not an informer. I trusted him implicitly because of his knowledge of Michigan. The Soviets knew that Detroit made cars but they didn’t know what state Detroit was in.

I accepted the professor’s invitation. He told me it would be best if I wore a suit, white shirt, and tie. It would draw less attention to me by the KGB who patrolled the area leading to American House.

I smiled and said I understood.

We breezed past the Soviet guards and reached the door where several people were waiting to get inside. We went in and I was greeted by a mysterious harmony of music and laughter – people actually laughing. My God how I had missed it. How I had forgotten the special joy that laughter brings to the heart. To the soul. People do laugh. People do smile. People do greet one another.

Into a dimly lit room I rushed like a child in Toyland. The door closed. I prayed that I would never have to go back into the street. I knew I had left the valley of the death. In one corner I spotted something that I had not seen in ages – and I rushed over and hugged it. It was a jukebox. I stood there listening. The songs and the singers were new – but it was American. Before me a buffet laden with the fruits and food of my past opened up. I rushed to the table and immediately learned that all was free. Eat all you want. And I did. I couldn’t stop. Somewhere between the jukebox and the food I lost the professor.

It was a crucial mistake to lose contact with my host. Seconds later, when I walked up to the bar and the bartender asked, “What will you have, sir?” the knell sounded for me. I had heard of, but never had Scotch and Soda, so I ordered it. The bartender asked, “Do you want that on the rocks?”

I paused for a second, not knowing what to say. “On the rocks?”…what did it mean? I did not want any rocks in my drink, I told him. He returned my puzzled look with a look of suspicion. I caught him looking over my shoulders into the dark corner of the room. Quickly I was surrounded by two muscular men. One asked if I was an American citizen.

I answered that I was born in Detroit.

“That’s not what I asked,” the man said with a tone that definitely meant business. He demanded to see my passport.

“I don’t have one on me.”

“Show me your driver’s license or any ID.”

The only identification I had was my Soviet internal passport and I surely wouldn’t show them that.

Both men looked at me and the one who was asking all the questions invited me to leave the premises. If fact, the other grabbed me by my arm and led me to the door.

I was fortunate; he didn’t toss me from the building.

I had not realized it at the time, but the prolonged absence from my native land created a cultural abyss that I would have to bridge before I would be accepted back into the culture I once knew so well.

***

bookTom 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!

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Never, Never Shall We Forget

Armenian Genocide Rally

There were bits and pieces of information spreading throughout the Armenian communities. It was whispered that the Turks were rounding up and arresting Christians. But no one would confirm the rumors. With each passing moment, more information was being shared, but the community leaders were not available to confirm or deny.

The Armenians, in the beautiful city of Constantinople, were in a panic. Their fathers and mothers had told them stories of the massacres under Abdul Hamid I and Abdul Hamid II, but that was a generation previous. Were not we, Christian Armenians, fighting alongside our Islamic neighbors against those horrible Allies…England, France, Italy, and Japan? Were not our sons dying for the glory of Turkey?

The elders told all to “stay calm”. But there were those among them who had lived through the horrors of Abdul Hamid II’s pogroms, when more than 200,000 of their brothers and sisters were slaughtered. And that was a mere two decades ago.

It is April 24, 1915.

Just a year previous an orange glow accompanied the sun as its rays sliced through the clouds like a dagger. The gold cross which had once crowned the majestic dome of the Roman Catholic Church where Emperor Constantine had worshipped, had been replaced with the symbolic “new moon” of Islam on the renamed Blue Mosque and now heard the prayers of those whose knees bowed to Mecca.

Europe was in flames.

A coalition made up of Germany, Austria, and Hungary –which had seduced Turkey to fight on their side with a promise that all of the Arabian Peninsula would be annexed by the Ottomans once victory over the Allies was secured. The Allies included England, France, Italy, and Japan. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife lit the powder keg that exploded into World War I. On August 1, 1914, Germany had declared war on Russia.

But America was at peace.

The US economy was booming thanks to the war in Europe. President Woodrow Wilson, the first Democrat to occupy the White House in 20 years, enjoyed overwhelming support because he had “kept America out of the war.” Wilson can thank Roosevelt for ending the Republican monopoly on the Presidency.

Because he did not agree with his handpicked protégé (William Howard Taft), Theodore Roosevelt decided to run as an independent for the Progressive Party, the Bull Moose Party, which split the electoral votes in favor of Wilson. The popular vote in 1914 gave Wilson -6,294,293; Roosevelt -4,117,000, and Taft 3,486,110. Incidentally, the Socialist in that race, Eugene Debs, garnered 897,011 votes.

Americans were flocking to the movie houses that year to see D.W. Griffith’s phenomenal film, “Birth of a Nation”, a classic three-hour drama of the Civil War and the Reconstruction Period. According to reviews, Lillian Gish starred as a Southern Belle, who is terrorized by a Negro. Her honor is avenged by the Ku Klux Klan who comes to the rescue like knights in shining armor.

But no one came to the rescue of the Armenians.

As Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, pointed out, the Turks had a hidden agenda. On April 24, 1915, the Turkish government began and ruthlessly carried out the general massacre and deportation of Armenians in Asia Minor. The clearance of the race from Asia Minor was about as complete as such an act could be, on a scale so great. There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race opposed to all Turkish ambitions…Churchill asserted.

On that day, April 24, 1915, orders issued by Talaat, the Minister of the Interior, and Enver, the Minister of War, instructed the Ottoman military to round up the Armenian political leaders, religious leaders, and intelligentsia in Constantinople. The detainees were driven from the city and later executed. Armenians who had held ranks in the military, and those who held posts in government, as well as soldiers, who had fought alongside their Turkish counterparts, were disarmed, relieved of their duty, taken to labor camps and later slaughtered. Talaat’s order to his governors read: No Christian Armenian in the province who refused to accept Allah and the Koran shall be spared.

Women and children and the elderly were driven from their homes at bayonet point, rounded up into caravans and led on death marches with little to no food, starving and killed when they were too weak to stay in line. Before the end of the decade, there were no Armenians remaining in Turkey.

More than one million, five hundred thousand Armenians died in what civilized people have called the first genocide of the 20th century. That date, April 24, 1915 – one hundred and one years ago – is truly a day that has gone down in infamy.

No Armenians will ever forget April 24, 1915. The blood of our forefathers runs through our veins and our hearts.

And although I abhor referring to him or anything he has said or written, out of necessity I will. In launching his insane plot to wipe every Jewish man, woman, and child from the face of the earth, Nazi Dictator Adolph Hitler, in 1939, rallied his generals when they hesitated to carry out his command by saying, “After all, who today remembers the Armenians.”

We do. We shall never forget. We demand justice.

***

bookTom 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!

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The little girl with brown eyes

Tom Mooradian, Armenian Repatriate
There was a flush of questions that immediately dominated my thoughts as I listened to the woman’s voice on the other end of the telephone.

“This is the Shirley Temple look-alike, you wrote about in your book,” the voice said. It was a voice I had not heard for more than a half of a century. “And I want you to know that I do not have blue eyes; they are brown.”

Before my burst of questions to the caller began, she identified herself as Christine Karibian. “I loved your book, especially your description of me, but for the record my eyes are brown and not blue.” Christine went on to say that she had heard I would be appearing in the Providence area, and that she and her friends would definitely be attending the talk. Unfortunately, her brother, the lanky, sandy-haired Michael, would not. He had passed away in the USSR several years ago.

Christine and Michael were among the youngest of the Armenian American repatriates. Their father, Harry, and mother, Jean, who was of Polish descent, left Detroit in 1947 to live in Soviet Armenia. Christine’s father unsuccessfully attempted to get his family out of the USSR and was arrested after leaving the US Embassy in Moscow. He was tried and convicted as an “enemy of the state”.

“Dad survived the gulag,” Christine said. “In fact, he and mom actually made it back to the States. When you get here I’ll tell you the whole story.”

Christine married an Armenian American repatriate, Ara Lafian, and they had two children while in Armenia. The Lafians made it back to the United States and settled in Rhode Island.

***

bookTom 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!

Save

The Third World War

World War Three
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have joined many of you in prayer for peace and good will among nations. And, obviously, our prayers have yet to be answered.

I have sat at the dinner tables of the Soviet mother who lost all three sons fighting the Nazi invader, and watched my neighbor place the Gold Star in her front-room window, signifying that her son had died in the battle.

In my lifetime alone the conflict between nations has never ceased – World War II, Korean, Viet Nam, The Cold War, the Iraq and Afghanistan Invasions to name a few – the battlefields that have claimed millions of young men and women, and still mankind remains right on course in its insane attempt to commit suicide.

We choose to build rockets with atomic warheads, nuclear submarines, multi-million dollar aircraft carriers and drones, yet fail to provide our people with medical care, food, and clothing. We MUST defend our homeland but our troops are stationed in lands and cities whose names we can’t pronounce or find on our maps.

As Trygve Lie, the First Secretary General of the United Nations once noted…Wars occur because people prepare for conflict, rather than for peace.

If the word is more powerful than the sword, why then have we turned our backs on our knowledge to solve our political difference? Must we continue to be governed on the false and insane premise that might makes right.

For more years that most care to say, the United States has been fighting an “invisible” force of terrorists, known as ISIL, whose top officers consist of the deposed Iraq dictator. Their ranks are made up of the uprooted, disenfranchised, and the disillusioned whose leaders corrupt the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed and the Koran. They spread their venomous teachings of hate and terror in hopes of creating a caliphate whose barbaric foundation would be to enslave all who do not believe in their monstrous views.

As if there isn’t enough pain and suffering today on earth, the world may again be plunged into another world conflict as the fragile cease-fire between Nagorno-Karabakh and its neighboring Azerbaijan has been violated. Even during the truce there have been killings. Rockets fired. Men and women killed.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave of the Republic of Armenia, was part of ancient and historic Armenia that became a part of Azerbaijan shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, thanks to the generosity of the then Commissar of Nationalities, Joseph Stalin.

Armenia, which in 301 converted to Christianity making it the first nation to accept Christianity as a national religion, had no say in the decision and, the Nogorno Karabakh Armenians were governed by the Sunni Azeri’s until the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Christian Armenians of Karabakh had no desire to live under the heel of the Sunnis and fought for their freedom, which they won. The 192,000 Christian Armenians who composed approximately 75 percent of the population of the region dreamed of reuniting with Mother Armenia.

With 60,000 million Turks in the West and 16 million Sunni Azeris to the East, Armenia is sandwiched between two historic enemies. It is no secret that the Russian Federation and its president, Vladimir Putin would side with the Christian Armenians. They have a mutual defense pact.

But Turkey is a longtime member of NATO, and the Turks, who slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, would not hesitate to finish their bloodletting.

Add the countries who signed the Minsk Declaration, a mutual defense pact which includes 11 former members of the Soviet Union, plus the Russian military onto the battlefield…you have the makings of another world war. And that, I believe, is why Putin has dispatched his Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, to talk with Armenia’s head of state, Serzh Sargsian.

And you thought the 20th was a violent century!

***

bookTom 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!

Save

How Quickly We Forget

ISP-dictator4
During my lifetime the world has witnessed the rise and fall of many sadistic dictators. Topping the list of 20th Century despots are Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Hikedi Tojo, Mao Tse-tung, Francisco Franco, and Ho Chi Minh.

It seems, as in the gang drug wars, when one drug lord is executed, another quickly claims the territory.

And now, civilization has to be concerned over a newcomer on the world stage of aggression – the young psychopathic ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, who seems to enjoy shooting off long-rang missiles and torturing members of his own family before executing them. More on Kim later.

I realize we humans have short memories. Quick test: Who today remembers the (1) Katyn Forest massacre? (2) The slaughter at Oradourt sur Glane, France? (3) Austerlitz and (4) The First Genocide of the 20th Century?

My mother used to say that the only time you will remember an evil deed is when the sword strikes you or your loved one and, by a miracle of God, you survive.

I was reminded of that as I sat last night as I watched a young American student, arrested and convicted by the North Koreans for removing a political banner from a hotel, burst into tears and beg the court for mercy. Breaking into tears, 21-year-old Otto Frederick Warmbier, pleaded with the court, apologized for his actions, and tearfully asked for his freedom.

“My brother and my sister need me…I beg that you see that I am only human. I realize that I have made the worst mistake of my life.”

Warmbier’s plea fell on deaf ears. The Korean judges knew that Kim Jong Un’s shadow hung over their decisions. The judges ordered the young American to be incarcerated and to serve or 15 years of hard labor.

As the courtroom drama played across the TV screen in our living room, my wife turned to me and said: “Did you cry?”

“My dad always reminded me that men don’t cry….but `yes’ I cried and, in fact, got on my knees and begged for mercy.”

I was Warmbier’s age when I was arrested by the KGB (nee NKVD) at the airport in Yerevan, Armenia. My mission to Moscow was to present a petition to the US Ambassador in hopes that he could help a group of American Armenians to return home. I was arrested by two NKVD officers and charged as an “enemy of the state” (diminishing the power of the state.) Just by attempting to go to the American Embassy, the law reads that I was diminishing the power of the state.

My dear wife interrupted my thoughts with another question. “What will happen to him?”

“Oh, he’ll serve some time…”

“Fifteen years!” she screamed across the room. “For trying to remove a poster from a wall in his hotel!”

“No, no, no!” I responded, “Don’t worry….our CIA is very busy as we speak, looking down a list of possible North Korean spies in this country, someone in the class of the Soviet master spy, Rudolph Abel. And when they find one, they will hire an attorney (remembering the movie Bridge of Spies) of Tom Hanks’ caliber, who then will proceed to broker an exchange for Wamblier. We got Francis Gary Powers back for Abel, didn’t we?”

Question 1 – Katyn Forest – Stalin ordered the execution of some 20,000 Polish officers because, according to reports, the Soviet dictator believed that after the war against the Nazis was over, “we (the Soviets) would have to fight them anyway…” The mass murders were first blamed on the Nazis, but, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin admitted that the Soviets had committed the atrocities.

Question 2 – The Nazis massacred every living man, women and child in Oradour in retaliation after they discovered one of their SS officers dead. The SS encircled the town, shot the men, then hauled women and children into the church and set the church on fire. Those who tried to escape the inferno were gunned down. The SS also stopped a train bound for Oradour and arrested all the passengers who were then taken to a field and executed. The bodies were tossed into the burning church.

Question 3 – Most Americans have forgotten the name of Reinhard Heydrick who is known by those who lived through World War II as the “Hangman of Europe.” One of the masterminds of Hitler’s “Final Solution” of the Jews, Heydrick and his SS troopers rounded up millions of Jews who were shipped by trains to the gas chambers and crematoriums at Auschwitz.

Question 4 – Beware my dear Kurds, what you have sown, for soon you shall reap. The Kurds, culpable in the crime of the Ottoman Empire’s genocide of Christian Armenians in 1915, today wage war against Turkey, the architect of the genocide against a peaceful people who had lived alongside their fellow countrymen for more than 800 years. The Kurds’ goal is to establish a state by carving off lands in southern Turkey, northern Syria and Iraq. Who, but the Armenians today remember the crimes committed against Armenians by the Sultans, the Young Turks, and their agents of death – Talaat Pasha, the minister of war, and Enver Pasha, the minister of war who executed the plan to annihilate more than 1.5 million Armenians.

Believe me, the plague of genocide can spread from Iraq, Iran, Syria, in Russia, China, Poland, Germany – in India and Asia – to every corner of the earth.

Can it happen again? Dear Readers, it already has…

 

***

bookTom 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.
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Stranger than fiction

Sleepless man
Image courtesy of Graur Codrin and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It happened one night…

I had watched the 11th Republican Party Debate, wrote a blog post, and then headed for bed. But I couldn’t sleep. The 2012 Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney’s scathing criticism of the current Presidential primary candidate Donald Trump played in a loop in my mind’s ear.

In the aftermath of Romney’s awakening, the political cauldron exploded. It seems that the conscience of the Republican hierarchy – or is it “aristocracy” –awakened. The establishment doesn’t want Trump…but the genie is out of the bottle…or is it more like Pandora’s box has been opened.

I sought solace in sleep; but to no avail.

The seductive sleep nymphs refused to allow my conscience to shut down. “Only the innocent sleep…” they whispered. They tried to lure me back to my computer. I refused to get out of my warm bed.

Seconds later, I found the computer on my lap, open and running, waiting for me to try to put this chaos into words.

“Write!” one of the nymphs ordered. “No sleep until you do!”

“If you’re going to dictate this, why don’t you write the whole damn post yourself. Why use me for your dirty political tricks?”

“You have credibility.”

“And, you don’t?” I challenged the nymph.

“Unfortunately, we don’t. Those who believe in us are those who write epic novels and the poets.

Point well taken.

“Did you not see what those people did to that African American who protested at one of the Trump rallies? Didn’t it remind you of that fateful night in 1949 when you watched from your third-floor window in the American House in Yerevan? How the army of KGB officers tossed those children and old women and men onto those trucks? Who used their clubs and rifle butts to crack the heads of those children and old women? You must remember; how could you forget.”

I wanted my mind cleared. I wanted those thoughts to go away. I didn’t want to get involved. Go haunt and taunt others. I am sick and tired of writing and fighting. No one listens, anymore. Just leave me be.

The sanctimonious Mitt Romney had spoken. He had labeled billionaire businessman Donald Trump a “fraud” and “phony” and said that he, Romney, “…will never stop until we keep this con man from taking over the party of Reagan and Lincoln and the conservative movement.”

There was silence in the bedroom…but I knew from the epic stories about them that the night nymphs didn’t give up without a fight. I knew I couldn’t compromise with these ethereal messengers of my mind and believed that the sooner I carried out their dictates, the sooner sleep would be mine. I could hear them mumbling, but nothing coherent seemed to emanate from these ghostly figures of my mind…until I heard…

“Caesar had his Brutus…”

“And King Charles I, his Cromwell…” said another.

“And Donald Trump, his Mitt Romney!” chimed in a third.

The voices continued, “Treason! Treason!”, rising above the maddening Republican masses. “To deny our anointed one the sacred garland of victory, and his right to challenge the heretic queen could awaken Kydoimos, God of Confusion, Uproar, and Hubbub, whose wrath would surely doom our conservative cause and end our momentum toward obtaining the kingdom!”

What are you saying? That it wouldn’t Make America Great Again? Well, maybe, then, it could make America whole again…

“May I go to sleep now?” I wished.

“There is still one more task…Obama’s legacy.”

Sorry, out of my jurisdiction.

“You must give him a message from Lord Cromwell. Mr. Obama has had enough sleepless nights,” the nymph continued as a sheet of paper feathered its way into my hand.

I read it. “No way…” Did Cromwell actually do this? Well maybe.

It seems that the Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland got so sick of Parliament sitting on their royal derrieres and getting paid for doing nothing, that he stormed into the chambers and told his lawmakers:

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice……and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money…Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place…Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a period to your iniquitous proceedings in this house…In the name of God go!”

I can dream now, can’t I?

***

bookTom 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!

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In the name of American decency

Photo courtesy of DomDeen and FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo courtesy of DomDeen and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A political tsunami, strengthened by base and destructive rhetoric by a small number of bitter Republican Party heretics, has reached the shores of our nation. Crumbling under these malicious waves of banter is the very foundation of the democracy.

It is not the mud-slinging politicians whose intolerance for race, creed, and individual freedom who are new to American politics. They came with the birth of a nation nearly two hundred and forty years ago, a new nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

What is new is the barbaric and brutal attacks by these would-be leaders aimed directly at the voiceless, the anguished – the immigrant, the refugee, those fleeing tyranny and who seek asylum here. As my parents before me, they escaped tyranny and came here from Armenia in hopes of building a new life.

Apparently those who seek power of governance have forgotten the road they and their parents have traveled. They have forgotten the compassion and the humanitarianism shown to the new arrivals as the gates of hope and liberty were opened for their loved ones.

Every reasonable citizen should reject the dialogue used by presidential hopefuls Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, Their words are despicable and cruel.

Mr. Trump reportedly would slaughter the wives and children of terrorists who attacked this country. Should Lincoln also have executed the wives and children who attacked the United States on that tragic day, April 12, 1861, when the South fired on Fort Sumter?

And, if I recall correctly, my history books will also show that Hitler announced “I will not war against women and children.” Do I need to say what a narcissistic psychopathic murderer he turned out to be?

There are statesmen who, when called upon to lead their people, unite the nation to fight against overwhelming odds, through undreamed perils to victory; and then there are those butchers who would impose a “new order” to those who fall to their needs.

I ask myself in this seemingly endless time of war on terrorism, of insecurity, unemployment, and unrest – what kind of leader does this nation need?

Do I want a President whose words provide hope and security or one who degrades and belittles his fellow countrymen and women?

I have but one vote. Rest assured, I will cast it.

 

***

bookTom 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!

Save