A Book that Initiates 100 Years of History

One never knows what the day’s mail will bring. One moment, it could be a solicitation from a worthy Armenian Cause. Another time, it could be a publication.

Impact of an Ancient Nation
Impact of an Ancient Nation

In both cases, there’s a plethora of activity that makes my life more compelling—for richer or poorer. The solicitations are met with prudence. As for the books, journals, and magazines, they carry with them a knowledge and understanding that writers will also be hard at work in promoting their craft.

Such a book is Impact of an Ancient Nation, which bridges the past, present, and future with 100-plus facts about Armenia and Armenians, each so vividly depicted on each page. It’s an initiative of the 100 Years, 100 Facts Project created by Lena Maranian Adishian and Nareg Seferian.

Little did I know that Nareg and I are no strangers. On a personal note, he’s followed my writing for years and was happy to briefly make my acquaintance during the Armenian Genocide commemorations at the State House in Boston in 2012.

His letter contained this postscript: “Please keep on sharing your stories, God bless you, particularly at this challenging time of your life,” referencing my battle with terminal cancer. In such trying times as these, words of inspiration from writing peers are a blessing in disguise.

The letter also mentioned my work at The Haverhill Gazette and the Armenian Weekly, along with the genocide classes we’ve been bringing to public schools over the past seven years. I was happy to equate some of my work with their efforts to the cultural mainstream.

“You have influenced the path our project has taken for which we are grateful,” they wrote. “Your work with youngsters over the years can only serve as an inspiration for us as we strive to make a difference for a new generation through our own efforts.”

Beyond all that, I must admit, this was no ordinary book but one meant to be treasured and preserved for generations to follow. It’s a “tour de force” if you’ll pardon my over-exuberance, simply because everything I ever wanted to know about my history and heritage is found within its contents.

The collaborators pulled all the stops to make this not only a palatable read but a research tool for anyone looking for a nutshell approach to our most venerable lineage. It all stemmed a year ago from a website which turned into a successful online educational initiative that ran during the centennial year.

The 100 separate facts presented through the website—along with five bonus facts in the book—cover various aspects of the Armenian experience, from historical episodes to features on various Diaspora communities, notable individuals all the way to music, dance, sports, and entertainment.

In preparing the website, this spirited duo wanted to showcase the breadth and richness of the legacy that Armenians share as the centennial of a deeply significant turning point of their heritage was being marked around the world.

“In coming up with this revised and updated book version, the idea is to share this work as a commemorative volume, something that could tangibly remain and speak across generations, whether in living rooms, schools, or libraries,” they point out.

The co-authors took the initiative for such a project by reiterating what we have emphasized all along inside our communities. They list five basic reasons:

  • Celebrate our survival
  • Never forget the genocide
  • Be smart; Let’s learn it and share it
  • This is as much about the future as it is about the past
  • Do something for the centennial

They go on to remind us that not everyone can be a scholar or an historian. The key is to involve ourselves with our ancestry in any way that seems comfortable, whether it’s reconnecting with a church, taking an Armenian class, attending a picnic or concert, sending your children to camp, contributing monetarily, visiting Armenia, or volunteering your time. The opportunities are boundless.

I often wonder about the apathy that’s out there in most every community or why more Armenians don’t get involved with their heritage. There are so many talented people in our midst that have skills and resources to benefit our society. So why aren’t they engaged?

Perhaps, if they discovered this book, attitudes might change a little. No doubt, they’ll be impressed by our achievements over time.

As a writer myself, I can appreciate the work that’s gone into this monumental enterprise and can only thank Lena and Nareg for the time and commitment they both exhausted.

For more information, please visit www.100years100facts.com. You won’t be disappointed.


Tom Vartabedian

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.
Tom Vartabedian

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