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In remembrance of my big brother… Popkin (Robert) Mooradian

Robert (Popkin) Mooradian

My brother was a big brother in the truest sense. My first real memory of him was when I was between 5 and 7 years old, walking down Solvay Street in the multi-cultural section of Detroit called Delray to the Delray Presbyterian Church. We would go to the second floor gymnasium. He would seat me on one of the benches, and I would watch him, my brother George, Bill Chunko, Frank Sabo, Suren Sabrian, and others play basketball.

One day he said it was time for me to learn how to play. He enrolled me in a practice program every Saturday morning at 9 am. I would pack my satchel with a jersey and shorts and gym shoes and sweatsocks and go with him to the church basket ball court. Chunko was my coach. Chunko went on to be an all-state basketball, football, baseball player and went from there to coach the University of Georgia football team.

Over the summer I practiced every Saturday with a group of kids my age, and at the end of the session, my coach gave each of us an evaluation card. I will never forget what my card said, “Tommy, you will never become a basketball player. Try ping-pong, or chess.” With the card in one hand and satchel in the other, I went home crying to my big brother. I showed him the coach’s appraisal. Robert responded, “Don’t let other tell you who you are. Go prove him wrong.” I believe I did.

The second life lesson that my brother taught me was when he was training to become a US Naval pilot in the early days of WWII. He was stationed at Grosse Ile. One weekend he was on furlough. He came home and he brought his whites with him. He went out with the gang in his Zoot Suit to dance the night away. While I was picking up my room, I saw the dress uniform. Since I knew I was going to be in the Navy someday, since I knew I would be following in my brother’s footsteps, I tried it on. I looked handsome. I thought my girlfriend should see me in “my” Navy uniform. I was 14/15 years old. Because both my brothers were serving in the Navy, and my father couldn’t drive, I had been issued a temporary driver’s permit.

I jumped into our car, drove over to Clark Street and went to my girlfriend’s home. She came to the door, looked at me, and broke down in tears, thinking that I joined the Navy. I quickly explained that this was how I would look when I joined. Relieved, she smiled and gave me a kiss. I turned around, got in the car with my ego inflated, and went home to take off the uniform. Unfortunately, on the corner of Clark and Lafayette, there was a red traffic light that I hadn’t noticed because I was riding high. I turned onto Lafayette and didn’t even realize that there was a law enforcement vehicle behind me. He pulled me over and got out of his car. I rolled down the window and the officer saw me in Bob’s naval uniform. “Oh, you’re in the service.” I didn’t answer. He said, “I have to look at your license, please.” I handed him my temporary license. He saw that I was only 15 and told me to get out of the car. Off I went to Fort-Green Police Station.

I was tossed into a cell. I tried explaining to him that it was my brother’s uniform and I was going to go into the navy when I graduated and I wanted to show my girlfriend what I would look like in Navy Whites. Hours later Robert showed up, talked to the officer in charge and somehow or other he got me out of that jam, apologizing for my ignorance. As we walked out of the building Robert paused and as I continued walking he kicked me in my ass, so hard that I can still feel it. He said, “Never try to be something or someone you’re not.”

Finally, in the pivotal year of my life (1947) shortly after graduating from high school, I decided to go to the Soviet Union. Big brother felt the need to intervene. He took me out to lunch, sat me down, and said, “You have all of these athletic scholarships. You’re in Lawrence Institute of Technology now. Finish your schooling and you can go wherever you want.” My answer to him was, “You had your adventure, and so did George, and the Soviet Union is our friend. They fought side by side with us…I want to go.” He said, “Don’t. They only fought with us because if they didn’t, their country would have lost. Do not go.” I didn’t listen to him and that is probably the only time in my life that I didn’t listen to wise advice.

In his eulogy the priest pointed out that usually when one reaches his 90’s, there are only few to gather and mourn the deceased. But in Robert’s case, there was an overwhelming number. The room was so crowded that the funeral home rushed to find more chairs for the mourners. People who knew my big brother, knew him as caring, loving, and committed to do anything to lift their status in life. He has touched so many that he will never die; he lives in the hearts of those who have known him. What we need in today’s world is more people like him…more decent, honorable people.

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!

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The Age of Stupidity

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When are the Congress of the United States and the President of the United States going to end their “Cold War?”

The People deserve an answer.

It is absolutely disgraceful and degrading to hear and listen to the rhetoric emulating from Washington these days. Our elected officials are absolutely content with their babbling and divisiveness, while misery and poverty continues throughout the nation.

In our pursuit of happiness, they, who we have put in office, are the biggest obstacles.

“Our people,” stressed Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, in his Farewell Address to the Nation, noted “…expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on questions of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the nation…”

Regrettably, this has not been the case in recent history…

…children are no longer safe in their classrooms or playgrounds, an entire city has been poisoned by lead because of inept elected officials, citizens have been gunned down in the streets, movie houses, even our places of worships. Who is in charge?

It is unquestionably true that our leaders do not know who our enemies are abroad….and yet our men and women are fighting an invisible army, being killed by men and women they have trained, dying in cities whose names we can’t pronounce. Upon their return from the battle fields, many are dreadfully demoralized and have so many psychological and physical scars that a reported 22 vets commit suicide every day. Their readjustment to life is filled with way too many potholes. Shameful. Disgraceful that this nation, the richest in modern history is not helping them.

My heart breaks each day when the mail carrier delivers yet another letter for another request from one of the charities because the government is not doing its job.

And how I cringe each evening when I settle into my chair and watch the nightly news and learn of yet another holocaust and genocide committed against humankind, sandwiched between yet another TV commercial of a wounded American GI, who has bravely served his country, now put on “display” to help raise funds to help those who can’t help themselves.

If the government can pay its bills to those who manufacture the weapons, the missiles and bombs – yes, as Ike pointed out “the permanent armaments industry of vast proportions”…should it (the government) not also pay ALL of the bills for those who were wounded and scarred by the legal and illegal wars we have been involved in for the past 14 years?

The narrative of the 20th Century, with four wars, two of those World Wars, and the Atomic Bomb is written in blood and has left civilization critically wounded. Earth survived .

We human beings are made for something better than to kill one another….we are not stupid. We are creative beings, beautiful creatures who find dignity in our work and our achievements. We DO work together and have created a remarkable world.

This nonsense in Washington must stop. It is degrading, disgustingly harmful to the nation. The way some of the candidates for the presidency have performed in the debates is outright stupid. It’s more Reality Show than Presidential. The reality of it all is that today and for the foreseeable future, the office of the Presidency of the United States is and will be viewed as the seat of the most powerful figure in history. His – or her – hands will hold the destiny of mankind. Members of Congress hide in the group, each sees him/herself as “only one” of many. It’s so much easier to blame one person, rather than the 535, who have an equal responsibility.

Some may believe my words here are in vain, after all Stupidity has been with us since the dawn of thought. And the United States is not immune to ignorance. The 18th century poet Friedrich Schiller wrote, “Against stupidity the very gods fight in vain.”

Schiller may be right!

Although stupidity may be a virus that seems to have spread in recent years, I believe it can be conquered by education and knowledge. I believe Stupidity is most prevalent in despotisms and dictatorships. Yet I could nominate one of our recent Presidents…

Let’s not go there; I want to be able to continue writing this blog!

 ***

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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Valley of Death

Lenin's Tomb in Moscow

I have walked in the valley of death….and I have seen the face of evil.

Born an American, I lived in Stalin’s Russia for thirteen years.  Humiliated because of my past and impoverished by a system that suppressed private enterprise and individuality, and considered “a tool of the capitalist”, I quickly found there were no green pastures for an American in the Soviet Union.

My enemies were everywhere…on the streets, in our workplace….and even extended into our homes. Evil wore the uniforms of the Cheka….the NKVD….the KGB….and the omnipresent informers. Beasts in human flesh…waiting…waiting…waiting for me to make a fatal mistake. Shadows of men who refused to come out into the light to confront their victim.  There was no such thing as “due process” for those who would criticize Stalin or the Communist Party.

I swore they would never, never dance on my grave.

I turned my cheek and with each slap, I vowed I would not yield. I stood my ground, lost some battles, but when my personal ordeal was over, they hugged me and wished me well as I was placed on a Soviet jet headed for Copenhagen, New York and home.

Never once did I confront my enemies with a weapon. With a gun.  Or violence.

I knew inevitably justice would prevail.

And now, after a half century of freedom, I live in fear again: for my country, my family, my children and grandchildren.

A thousand nations have come and gone, but for how long can one nation divided, engaged in three wars, patronizing conceited politicians who build their own egos instead of working together for the good of the people, the nation, long stand?

Our people are our strength – and they came from the four corners of this planet, and there are those who would stop the flow; our middle class was the engine that kept the economy moving and its numbers decline with each day; and we fight endless wars to prove what? That we can kill? And be killed. And each day we are awakened to read from in newspapers or see on our TV and computer screens that yet another horrific crime has been committed by some deranged psychopath or a group of misguided religious fanatics.

We have come too far, worked too hard, fought many bloody battles and won our share of wars. If Congress and the President truly derive their powers from the people, the people have an obligation to pay close attention to what its elected officials are saying and doing.

And then show that power at the voting booth.

It is time to “awaken the sleeping giant.”

 

 ***

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