Parents tend to be very predictable people, especially the ones actively involved with their children. We want them to do better than us, and to live their lives by our shared values. The success of the first is reason why parents feel pride, and the second is a source of joy.
I have a son on the East Coast in Providence, RI attending Brown University, and a daughter on the West Coast in Irvine, attending the University of California. It has been a source of pride to see them seek their goals, and work hard to attain them. Joy, on the other hand, comes in strides, intermittently and with interruptions.
You educate them, instruct them and, as all good parents, lecture them along the way and move on. Until one day they astonish you, and make you happy.
Joy couldn’t have come at a more unfavorable date than the 99th anniversary of the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. April 24 is a very significant day for Armenians, and it is all the more so when your son and daughter embrace its importance too.
Two years ago, Nar arrived to Brown University where Armenians have been dormant probably since the days Vartan Gregorian walked the halls as the 16th president of this great institution. A well-versed e-mail invitation to meet received unprecedented responses from waves of Armenians on campus, including professors and staff. I was given to read one of the responses, by a student from New York, whose father, the respondent told, will be excited at the opportunity his son may get to meet Armenians, and learn to speak Armenian.
The month leading to this April 24, Nar rallied the community around a candlelight vigil on the campus Main Green, not to make noise, but to remember, to tell a story, to educate, and mainly to reinforce one’s own Armenian identity. A multitude gathered for a true remembrance, and a few words By Nar and other members of the community about what Genocide means to them.
While my generation was all about the demand for Genocide recognition by the Turks, his generation is all about mastering history and then, more importantly, educating others: one friend, one classmate, and one colleague (and possibly, one Turk) at a time. It seems to be ordinary, but if you think about it, it is more meticulous and harder work, but possibly more effective in the long run. They are of a generation that is free of politics and politicians. They want to tell their story – of their identity and people – and the Genocide will feature prominently in it.
The invitation that Nar sent out to the Brown community sounds kindly, but it ends with two words that bare significance to the goals that the next activist generation will set in their year of demands ahead. It reads: Beginning in 1915, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred at the hands of the rulers of the Ottoman Empire in the first genocide of the 20th Century. To this day, the government of Turkey does not accept what happened, representing a threat to justice and human rights.
On the same day, across the country on the East Coast, my daughter Lar was in a day-long silent protest on the Ring of the campus of the University of California in Irvine, where the purpose of their student protest was to reinforce their commitment to the task to educate others about the gravity of humankind’s crimes against humanity. She already has plans to make it more efficient and effective next year, in time for the 100th anniversary.
Beyond the pride and joy in this story, is a narrative of a post-genocide action plan for a new generation of Armenians. What my parents taught me, I passed to my children only after I fought the fight that my generation defined and deemed necessary for the time. We, in turn taught our children, who will pursue the same goals according to a plan that they will devise to fit their times.
Success will bear the burden of many setbacks. But the one that really matters is that the new generation will be aware and involved, and consequently, better and stronger than mine, and that’s more than a source of pride. That’s pure joy!