In the eyes of each and every Syrian refugee fleeing their war-torn homeland today, I can see the face of my mother.
My mother, orphaned before she was 10 during the 1915 Turkish genocide of Christian Armenians, walked hundreds of miles over hostile, mountainous terrain, leaving behind her the ancient and sacred waters of the Euphrates. The nightmare of the bodies of her parents left in a home plundered and torched by the savage Turk would be a never-ending nightmare.
That she survived is a miracle.
Without food, without shelter, witnessing terrible atrocities, she took to the nearby mountains where she found other refugees who shared whatever little food they had. She and the others were eventually saved by angels who appeared in the form of the International Red Cross.
The Red Cross, through its resources, managed to transport the children to orphanages in Europe and America.
Like many other Armenians, my mother eventually ended up on Ellis Island where, in time, she became just another “one of those starving Armenians.” She and my father built a life in their adopted land that stressed hard work and respect for all…no matter the color of their skin or religious beliefs..
Though her lips were sealed whenever we asked her to recall the journey from Turkey to America, she would always praise the Red Cross and the Near East Relief Society for the work they did in saving her and the other Armenians.
Because of her unique and tragic childhood, mother devoted her life to helping those who needed help.
And who today will step forward to help the brave refugees from war-torn Syria? Iraq? Afghanistan? Who will stop the despicable crimes the terrorists are committing across the globe?
Is it I, Lord?
Hymns are inspiring, words incite, but actions by those who have the power can save the day.
We are adrift as a nation, a house divided, breaking our pledges to friends, bickering over walls, and who will our “Nation Great Again.” In the meantime, the nation suffers, the people suffer, as our so-called elected officials point fingers.
Bodies of children are being washed ashore. Hundreds, no, thousands sit on the shores, hungry for freedom and liberty, finding nothing but misery. God forgive us for WE do not know what course to take.
If we are to be “great again,” should we not be helping those who need help now?
Men, women, and children, fleeing tyranny and war, are being exploited by ruthless and manipulating hordes who promise to show them the sea to the “promise land” in exchange for anything of value. And once the precarious crossing is made, those who survive soon discover that that land of milk and honey is but a mirage.
These are times to build bridges, not walls. Walls divide. Bridges carry us over troubled waters.
I am reminded of a sonnet penned by Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your stories pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift the lamp beside the golden door!”
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!