When you write your last chapter, is it written in tears or is it an ode to joy?
Mitch and I are children of the Great Depression and we also survived the 20th Century, one of the bloodiest centuries of human history. Ironically, it was war – World War I – that would bring us together, yet emotionally place us at opposite ends of the political ideological spectrum concerning the two countries we both loved – the United States of America and the Republic of Armenia.
Mitch was a patriot who served the United States in peace and in war and he believed in a free and independent Armenia. He used his organizational skills to help raise funds for the Motherland after the downfall of the Soviet Union. As a member of the United States Military Corps, he used his language skills in the Army Active Reserve Intelligence Division – foreign interrogation. When I asked him how many Soviet Armenians he questioned, Mitch would break out in a smile and answer in Armenian, “That’s classified information.”
On April 24, the day set aside for the commemoration and remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, Mitch would submit an editorial to the Armenian newspapers to remind the nation and the world that the evil that was and still exists must be eradicated.
“Words mean nothing,” he would stress, “unless they are supported by action.” Being an inactive spectator was not in his genes.
Never flamboyant or seeking praise of any kind, Mitch cared only about learning the truth and to seeing justice prevail; he tirelessly worked to uncover and present the facts before putting his thoughts on the page. He recognized and often reminded those in the office that “Reporters report the news; they don’t attend meetings to make news.”
Some of Mitch’s many accomplishments include:
- The Wayne State University Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of 52 years as an outstanding leader in journalism, as a reporter and editor
- The March of Dimes General Alexander Malcolm Citizen of the Year Award in recognition of his support and services for the nonprofit organization
- Served as president of the Detroit Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists
- Served as Trustee of Central Michigan University, appointed by Gov. James Blanchard
But, I believe he felt his greatest accomplishment is a legacy in friends and an incredible giving and caring family that will carry on his dreams of justice for all, building bridges not walls, and to those who cannot help themselves, the educational tools and support to do so.
Couples who build a life together and create a family that blossoms and contributes to society are the real builders of nations – and this above all, Rose and Mitch accomplished.
“If you’re looking for financial or any other kinds of awards in what you’re doing,” Mitch would tell me, “it won’t be in journalism or newspapering. Look far beyond the horizon…”
Life may seem that it is corroding all around us at this time, but all times, since the beginning of recorded time, has been challenging. One may believe that he is the master of his own fate but, as the days turn into weeks and years, one realizes the inevitable is waiting and unavoidable.
I was sitting in our living room reading David McCullough’s epic biography of John Adams and thinking of how I would have loved to have been sitting at his dinner table to hear John and Abigail converse about the challenges they and the colonists faced, reflecting, “…and we think we have it hard.”
The ringing of a telephone disrupted my melancholy. I heard my wife, Jan, pick up the phone followed by a series of inaudible words. When she came into the living room I knew something was wrong.
“It was Rose,” she said.
“My sister?” I nervously asked, wondering if something was wrong in the family.
“No, it was Rose Kehetian,” she explained. “She wants to know why you’re going to sue Mitch!”
Jan continued, “Mitch is in Oakwood Hospital.”
We packed our bags and drove the two-hundred twenty-five miles to Dearborn to see my friend.
…to be continued
Read the full “Mitch and Me” series:
Mitch and Me: A Posthumous Tribute to a Childhood Friend
Mitch and Me: The Years of the Great Depression
Mitch and Me: Iconic Moments of Friendship
Mitch and Me: Challenges in a New World
Mitch and Me: Explaining the Inexplicable
Mitch and Me: A Divergence
Mitch and Me: The Final Chapter to an Epic Life
Mitch and Me: The “Contract” is Null & Void