Giving Thanks as Proud American Armenians

As we hover over our dinner tables sagging with food this Thanksgiving, let us pause to reflect what this day may bring us.

A Thanksgiving to count our blessings
A Thanksgiving to count our blessings

Let us thank God that as bountiful American Armenians, we live in a country that is not ready to explode in our faces like Syria.

That we have a roof over our heads, a church in which to worship, a beloved family at our side, and more food than could feed a small nation.

Let us count our blessings that we belong to the greatest race that was ever conceived … for any other just would not crack a wishbone. As Armenians, we often take our heritage and culture for granted until fate brings us back together.

It’s time to remember our ancestors at this table—those who made it possible for us to gather at this moment, the ones who survived and those no longer with us. As Armenian immigrants, there is some solace that America was a place where we could worship in peace and live in security.

The Promised Land has lived up to its promise.

Are we not a nation that was bred upon refugees who arrived here, like the pilgrims in 1620, to cultivate their dreams?

On this day, let us look upon the faces of our children and ask, What can you do for this country as an Armenian? What contribution might you make that will bring glory and fame to our ethnicity?

Let them know that what we do for ourselves unfortunately stays with us, but what we do for others lives eternally and promotes the common good in mankind.

On a day marked by gluttony, whether it’s food or football, perhaps we can take a moment to say an Armenian prayer—“Hayr Mer” would be nice—and reflect upon others less fortunate.

A contribution to an Armenian charity might be one expression of thanks. At a time when the Armenian Tree Project is celebrating its 20th anniversary, maybe think of having a tree planted in memory of a loved one. Or a living tree for somebody still breathing.

On this Thanksgiving Day, a visit to a nursing home or an elderly housing center couldn’t come at a more inconvenient time, given the guest flow at your house. But think of the good it would do that isolated Armenian looking for a guest.

I marvel at some of the contributions we have made to world civilization. Two that come to mind are by Moses Gulezian, who salvaged the destruction of the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) and turned it into one of Boston’s top tourist attractions.

And how about a toast to Dr. Varaztad Kazanjian, the founding father of modern plastic surgery in this country? I just look to our wounded in any war zone and what this man did to restore their faces and limbs.

He, like others, found refuge in America as a teenager and not only made the best of it, but contributed to its welfare in a big, big way.

With this Thanksgiving, let us reflect upon the bounty God has provided with our respective churches, be they Armenian or not, and put the Christian faith right where it belongs—on Hye-er ground.

I often think of those communities with no Armenian church or ethnic inducements. So take the initiative and start your own. Did America really have an Armenian community before our people settled here after the genocide and turn it into a thriving hemisphere?

Yet, who really knows about us? We preach to one another at churches and conferences. We commemorate our anniversaries with those of us in attendance. More often than not, the percentages are mired in apathy and wish to stay anonymous.

Sad as this may be, not everyone can be Armenian by name only. It takes work, commitment, money, and sacrifice. It takes a little bit of synergy.

On this Thanksgiving, let us pray for the strength it takes to remain conscientious Armenians, continue fighting relentlessly for justice and recognition, and keep the momentum going with future generations in mind.

The Rockies may tumble. Plymouth Rock may crumble. But our bountiful heritage is here to stay. Be thankful for its vitality. Enjoy its sustenance.

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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7 Comments

  1. I don’t know what you people have to be “proud” about but this “pride” of yours is the fundamental reason why you are dying a fast death as a community.

    PS: Keep blindly serving an evil empire that is out to destroy many nations around the world, including your so-called ancestral homeland.

    • Gurgen: who is this “you people” you are referring to ?

      How do you know “you people” are allegedly dying a fast death as a community ?
      Do you live in US ?
      Yes: then you are one of the “you people”.
      No: then you do not know what you are talking about.

      PS: being Armenian-American has zero connection to allegedly “serving” an evil empire.
      The evil empire is being run by a very small group of people, who do things against the interests of the American people, including Armenian-Americans.
      We are required to pay Federal taxes on pain of jail, and those taxes are used for some evil purposes and some good purposes.
      Nothing we can do about it.
      Were Armenians living in Armenia SSR “serving” the evil Bolshevik empire which snatched Artsakh from us and ‘gave’ her to Turkbaijan ?
      Were Armenians living in Armenia SSR in May 1991 “serving” evil Gorbachev who allowed Turkbaijani OMON, with support from imperial Soviet troops, to attack NK Armenians, kill hundreds and ethnically cleanse 1000s ? (some parts of Shahumyan region are still occupied by Turkbaijanis).
      Did Armenians in Soviet Union “serve” the evil Operation Koltso ?
      Evil empires do evil things without asking the people: that’s how it goes.

      PS2: “including your so-called ancestral homeland” ?
      What ?
      Whose “so-called” ancestral homeland are you referring to ?
      Are you even Armenian, or one of the usual Turks or Turkbaijanis who post Anti-Armenian bile, under Armenian names, attempting to sow division amongst Armenians of the world.

      Whoever you are and whatever you are attempting to do won’t work.

  2. If America opened its doors to freedom, I feel we have much to be grateful for because this was a land of refuge and opportunity. It was where we raised our children and secured our homes. It was where we worshipped our God and built our churches. To me and thousands of others, American was a haven upon which our dreams became a reality. I’m very sorry that you take an opposite view.

  3. Bravo Gurgen,

    I hope “proud American Armenians” come to this realization one day when sit at the table with their families to commemorate what essentially proved to be the genocide of tens-of-millions of native Americans and the enslavement of millions of Africans, both of which eventually led to a semblance of prosperity in the US in recent decades. May they also come to the realization that millions of people around the world today are being killed, maimed or driven from their homes so that “proud American Armenians” can continue paying their taxes to fun it all.

    • Semblance of prosperity in the US only in the recent decades? The US has been in an industrial development for over a decade. Millions flocked to this country for a job and better living, for over a century. Many of these immigrants, including Armenian survivors, prospered in this country.

      At the same time, there has been racism, overcoming the the impact of slavery and the civil war, civil rights and other many issues such as better working conditions, environmental issues and freedom of speech. But every Armenian American has benefited from living in this country through their own hard work. So we have quite a bit to be thankful for.

      Again, at the same time, there are many issues in this country to overcome and history to always remember. We do need to remember and understand the plight of the Native Americans and the Africans brought to the US as slaves. And to understand that we Armenian Americans, who lost so much of our land, are beneficiaries of the natives to who lost so much themselves.

      The thing is, if you see your country doing something you don’t like, speak up and encourage others to speak up. You still have some influence on how this government works. Unlike many other countries around the world.

      Maybe we should move to Canada. Canada doesn’t go around invading other countries.

  4. I am also proud to be an American. Several generations have now worn the uniform of this country’s military services, worked in its industries, and benefited from the freedom that has been earned by many generations of Americans. The USA has given us refuge, a home, and a future for our children.

  5. Bravo Avery
    Armenians all over the world whether old immigrants or the 50´s 60´s (from Middle East revolution pro countries) plus the recent new ones from RA, are helping revive the old Armenian refugees the 1900´s fast.We have plenty of Churches, community centres,plus sunday schools day schools political parties etc.,
    We are not ¨dying out¨ AT ALL…
    Wait the day when shall come out on the main thoroughfares of the cities of the wold in droves in commemoration othe Martyrs day on April 24,2015 DEMANDINDING J U S T I C E!!!!! c l a i m (my view,only BLOOD MONEY for now.

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