She seemed tall, I was so small, and board-shouldered, with raven-black and shining hair, that reached all the way down her back when she took it out of a bun, nestled at the nape of her neck. The lines on her round face added to her somber air. She has seen too much. She had endured too much. Yet, as far back as I can remember, I struggled to catch up to her in the kitchen of our apartment in southwest Detroit. And she would pick me up from the linoleum, kiss me on the forehead, then put me down gently, savoring for the moment the promise of life continuing, and quickly tended to the streaming pots that were always singing some tune over the gas-lit stove.
I didn’t know what it was to be poor or what it meant to be “a starving Armenian,” for Nana, that was what my grandmother was called by everyone, made sure that there was food on the table. Not only for our family – but for anyone who needed a meal.
When dad came into the kitchen it was never for food; he came because he needed money, gold coins from the hem of Nana’s black housedress. The kitchen was Nana’s and my mother’s domain, and no one dared trespass. They knew the consequences. But, it was – I would later learn – the time of the Great Depression and everyone apparently was out of work and father had lost everything – the coffee houses where the survivors of the genocide would come for a cup of suorge, Turkish coffee, and discuss how they would get revenge. After all, Armenian villages were “cleansed” by the Young Turks who made sure that “the Armenian Problem” would not be a problem forever more. “Turkey for the Turks” – was their nationalistic blood cry, and, as the world stood by, one million five hundred thousand of my ancestors were wiped off the map of Turkey.
After one hundred one years, Armenians will not and cannot forget. Henry Morgenthau, Sr., US Ambassador to Turkey, noted, “I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this…the great massacres of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenia Race in 1915.” In his memoir he described the deportations and atrocities as a “cold-blooded, calculating state policy,” in the chapter on the Armenians “The Murder of a Nation.”
But that was, after all, in 1915. It’s a long time ago. Haven’t the Armenians, devout Christians, learned from the Bible, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed .” (Psalm 103:6).
In response to a comment from a reader who wrote:
“Since the atrocities were committed under the Ottoman Empire, I have never understood why the new modern Republic of Turkey can’t acknowledge and apologize for the Armenian Genocide. It may be similar to the relationship between the U.S.A. and the Indigenous Native Americans or, even, the institution of slavery in our own country. But while we can’t change history, by acknowledging and apologizing for it, we can move forward, having admitted to the wrong-doings and promising not to allow them again, anywhere.”
Billions upon billions of words have been written about the Armenian Genocide. And some of the finest and most knowledgeable scholars and researchers have offered proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this horrible crime against the Armenians and humanity was perpetrated by the Turkish regime.
To apologize would make them culpable, there is no statute of limitation for murder.
If I had it in my power, I would demand that Turkey cede the six Armenian provinces in what was once the Armenian Plateau to the Motherland. Within those six provinces is the former capital of Armenia, Ani. Paul Salokep (who wrote a special feature for the National Geographic Magazine as he walks around the world) commented on that part of the highlands, “I have seen no place on my journey more beautiful or sadder, than Ani…”
At one time in its long history, 1001 churches dotted the landscape of Ani. Today they stand in ruins…and a visitor would be hard-pressed to find even one of the hundreds of thousands of Armenians who, since the year 351 bowed in reverence, praying to Jesus Christ, their Savior, for this is now a land of Islam.
For the record, Germany paid more than $70 billion in compensation to the families who lost their loved ones to the beasts of the Nazi regime. How much should Turkey pay to the victims of the Armenian genocide?
There are but a handful of survivors left on earth.
Turkey is no fool. They know that time is on their side…
Or is it?
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!