Centennial Lookalike

A scene from the centennial celebrations at Sardarabad (Photo: Harout Kassabian/The Armenian Weekly)

Just a few days ago, the Centennial of the first Armenian Republic, the first Armenian state in 543 years, was grandly celebrated right where its founding was secured, at Sardarabad, along with Gharakiliseh and Bash Aparan… supposedly.

Based on people’s accounts, while pomp and circumstance abounded, they was somewhat misdirected. Music—mostly Russian, with the focus not on 1918 but Armenian achievements during WWII and the Artsakh liberation struggle. Plus, it seems things were a bit disorganized, with people having to walk for a couple of kilometers after abandoning their cars along the road to arrive at the festivities.

But why, how could this happen when preparations have been going on for the past year? Is it attributable to the government change just three weeks before? Is it something far more insidious? Or is it just plain incompetence.

I’m going to dispense with the first and third options.

It seems that the allergies certain sectors of Armenian society have to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) render it more important to disrespect and denigrate the 1918 republic, given the two are inextricably intertwined. Never mind that its birth was the highest expression of Armenians’ will to survive, come together, fend off the attacking Ittihadists-cum-Kemalists, and start building the state which served as the basis for what we have today.

By celebrating the centennial without properly celebrating the republic, without properly recognizing the role of the ARF in its formation, current political considerations/calculations were deemed more important that affirming to the world, and more importantly the Armenians, the importance of that time a century ago in getting us to where we are today. To give credit where credit is due, Nikol Pashinyan was the only one who gave due credit to the first republic and the ARF, in his very brief remarks.

But the fact that this problem was not noticed and condemned by the bulk of the country’s population is what’s really worrisome. I have to wonder if, like the people of Turkey, our compatriots also have a memory hole. It has been said that for most “Turks” their country’s history “starts” in 1923. There is a blissful ignorance/unawareness of what happened before that date. Is there a similar ignorance of the 1918-1921 period among the people of the Republic of Armenia?

This is a real problem. We must move towards a collective, national, state of mind that recognizes historical realities, even if they may seem inconvenient in the current political context.

Let’s break this partisan induced revisionism. Please.

Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.
Garen Yegparian

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  1. I was there. “Things were a bit disorganized” is an understatement. It was very badly organized and chaotic. There was heavy police presence but they were doing nothing to keep order. They simply were chatting with each other or busy on their cell phones.
    It took our bus nearly 3 hours to get out of the parkin area and the traffic jam.
    Sadly, it was not a “real and true” celebration of May 28, 1918. Other than a very brief mention of Pashinian of Aram Manoukian and ARF, no other mentions or visible demonstrations.
    There were a lot of young people. What was disappointing and disheartening none of them knew the history of the First Republic and the role the ARF played. Their ignorance and unawareness was depressing. History is being revised intentionally..
    For me personally, it was a sad day.
    Vart Adjemian

  2. Garen I attended the Artsakh National Cultural Festival in Stepanakert marking the 100th anniversary of Armenia and the whole program was about the heroic battles of 1918 and the heros who led the Republic, the leadership of the Tashnagsutioune in defending the Armeniuan nation and laying the foundation of a State and in the continuing fight for self determination in Artsakh till today. The strange thing was that in Artsakh May 28th isn’t an annual celebration it is a daily celebration because the people there see each day as a victory against an ongoing genocide.

  3. Ahhhh! But Garen is absolutely right! I guess the Truth hurts. Russian songs??? At an Armenian independence celebration? Are you serious? When would these idiots detach themselves from this Russian nightmare? Wasn’t 70 years enough?

  4. Yeah, it’s indeed absurd for Russian songs to be played on an Armenian national holiday. On the other hand, over here in Yerevan, I happened to notice a group of young dopes who were playing sleazy, vulgar American songs from their car stereos on the day of the Centennial. Apart from that, all of the other folks were playing patriotic, pretty Armenian songs on their car stereos.

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