From the Eyes of the Diaspora

Vartiter Vardanyan, AYF “Arev” Chapter member, West Palm Beach, FL at WPTV News Station

Editor’s Note: The following was a speech delivered by the author at a rally outside the WPTV news station on October 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

This is a message for my non-Armenians:

I hope you never wake up and hear that there was an attack against your people.
I hope you never come home to hear they are bombing our schools and hospitals.
I hope you never have to call your family and record their messages of “I love you” in case you never get to hear them again.
I hope you never have to console the people you love while their husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters go into combat.
I hope you never have to watch as the aggressors violate multiple cease-fire agreements.
I hope you never have to watch the people you love go into battle while the media does nothing to spread awareness.

I hope that you never have to deal with the survivor’s guilt and unrest from being able to sleep safely in Florida while your loved ones learn bomb drills at school.

Unfortunately, all of this is now a reality for Armenians all over the world. We call our loved ones every morning and before we go to sleep. We wake up and pray that there is good news awaiting us. We mourn the loss of the hundreds of Armenians who were murdered over the span of three weeks. I am hesitant to call them “men and women” because many of these casualties were between 18 to 21 years old. While we bury our children and fight tirelessly for peace, we must continue to live in a world that ignores our suffering.

The only thing that can compare to the pain and sorrow we feel right now is anger. Anger from the silence we are receiving, which is deafening and heartbreaking. White hot fury runs through our veins every time we see a news headline about the basketball championships or the fly on Pence’s head instead of the massacre happening in Artsakh. This anger, however, is one of the things that separates us from the enemy. Anger eats me alive as I read about the illegal bombs that are being used to destroy entire cities and the attacks targeting schools and hospitals. Even with this rage boiling deep within me, I cannot make myself hate Azeris and Turks as much as they hate us. They killed 1.5 million of my people and yet, I do not wish for the destruction of their innocent women and children. I do not hope for my military to bomb their schools and hospitals. That’s the difference between us. Azerbaijan and Turkey seek more death and destruction. Armenia and Artsakh seek peace.

We take pride in our soldiers and our cause. Can you say the same?

While you pay vulnerable Syrian men to fight your battle, Armenian men and women rush to volunteer for their country. Each and every one of our soldiers is loved deeply by every Armenian around the world. Your soldiers are nameless, faceless, mercenaries. Every Armenian around the world mourns for each fallen soldier. We share their names and celebrate their battle to protect Artsakh. You refuse to release any information about your casualties. Armenians have been spreading their pride all across the world. You have shut down all international news and social media access.

We take pride in our soldiers and our cause. Can you say the same?

So now, all of you, I ask you to take a stand. Stand with the country who is fighting for peace. Stand for the men, women and children whose lives are being ripped away from them. Stand for the sovereignty of a land that has been under fire for years. Stand for a race who survived a genocide and now, 105 years later, is fighting against extinction again. So, stand with Armenians. Share our story with everyone you know. Flood social media until people can no longer ignore this injustice. Donate whatever you can to support Armenia.

To our friends who have stood with us and fought by our side, I want to say thank you. Thank you for everything you are doing. Thank you for standing by our side. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We appreciate you more than you could ever imagine.

Stand for peace. Stand for Armenia. Stand for Artsakh.

Fight for peace. Fight for Armenia. Fight for Artsakh.

To my fellow Armenians,

All of us here today are part of the Armenian Diaspora. As such, we take pride in our Armenian heritage and work to keep our culture as we take it with us across the world. With that, we are now forced to watch as our beloved country is torn apart by aggressors who massacred our people 105 years ago.

We watch as the people we love go into combat, checking every morning and night to make sure their names are not on the list of those who were murdered that day.

We watch on the news as the churches we prayed in a few summers ago are turned to rubble. We are plagued with guilt because we sleep safely in our beds as our grandparents stay up listening to bombs destroying their backyards. We sit at home at a loss of how to provide the support our home deserves.

They call us the aggressors while they brutally murder our soldiers and civilians. They are nothing short of terrorists as they behead our soldiers and use their mutilated bodies as trophies. Our soldiers are our heroes. Every single one of them.

I know it is very easy to feel like we are small and that we are alone. The silence we’ve heard from American media has been deafening. As we stand here today, we must look around and recognize Armenians for who we are. We are all brothers and sisters; we love deeply, and we have pride in our country. We are strong, resilient, and most of all, united. We are all brothers and sisters, and we love our country. That is how we win. We will win because we will not back down, and we will not be quiet. Each and every one of us has a flame for Armenia burning in our hearts. When we stand together like this, we cannot be beaten.

I have been blown away by Armenians flooding the streets, raising their voices and fighting to get the recognition we deserve. Remember, we cannot stop. I know we are all tired and grieving. I am. I am mentally and physically exhausted, speaking up against terrorists and screaming to get my voice heard, but we cannot stop. We must continue to fight, as long as our brothers and sisters in Artsakh do. We must push back against Azerbajian’s terrorism. We must continue to flood social media, educate every non-Armenian we know, and send money and any form of aid that you can.

Հիշեք, թե ինչի համար ենք մենք պայքարում: Հայաստանը պարզապես քարտեզի վրա տեղ չէ: Մենք Հայաստան ենք: Հայաստանը ժողովուրդ է, մշակույթ, տուն: Անկախ նրանից, թե ձեր կյանքի կեսն անցկացրել եք Հայաստանում ապրելով կամ երբևէ չեք այցելել, Դուք Հայաստան եք: Հայաստանը մեր տունն է: Մեր սիրտն ու հոգին մեր հայկական հողում են:

Remember what we fight for. Armenia is not just a place on a map. We are Armenia. Armenia is a people, a culture, a home. Whether you have spent half of your life living in Armenia or have never visited, you are Armenia. Our heart and soul are in our Armenian land.

 Stand strong. Stand tall. Stand proud. Stand together.
Vartiter Vardanyan

Vartiter Vardanyan

Vartiter Vardanyan was born in Flushing, New York but has spent a majority of her life in South Florida. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and is working towards becoming a physician. Vartiter is involved in multiple organizations that focus on medicine and tutors college students in Organic Chemistry. She is currently on the educational committee for the South Florida AYF "Arev" Chapter. Vartiter has dedicated her time to volunteering and raising money for the Women’s Shelter of Armenia.
Vartiter Vardanyan

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