“We grew up absorbing their stories.” Journalist Ani Hovannisian spoke these words about the Armenian Genocide survivor generation directly to my heart, and, I imagine, to many others gathered to view her educational and emotionally impactful documentary “The Hidden Map.”
The screening took place in beautiful, sunny Punta Cana, which is where I am writing this reflection as an eager participant in the Armenian Heritage Cruise (AHC) annual event. With the onset of the pandemic, the trip was postponed in 2021, but this year, hundreds of diasporan Armenians welcomed the opportunity to travel to the Caribbean locale and not only soak in the idyllic setting, but also celebrate and honor Armenian culture and life.
Life. Living. Celebration. How do these words fit into our existence after a year of war and devastation on our homeland’s doorstep from our genocidal neighbors to the east and west?
“Make no mistake. Our homeland is facing an existential threat the likes of which we have not seen in 100 years,” stressed Armenian National Committee executive director Aram Hamparian during his informative presentation.
Hamparian and Hovannisian drove home the importance of remembering the voices and stories of our genocide survivors while ramping up the critical Hai Tahd work in the diaspora. Attending both of their presentations brought my time here into clearer perspective.
The feeling of remorse for enjoying a gorgeous week in Punta Cana while so many of my fellow Armenians in the homeland are suffering is real. Yet so is the peace, comfort and enjoyment of being with my Armenian community here.
The AHC committee clearly put all of their efforts into organizing a first-class event for me and my fellow attendees. From the top notch all-inclusive Hyatt Cap Cana resort to the aforementioned presentations to the best musical entertainment and Armenian-themed beach events, we could not help but have a wonderful time.
But…the war…the continuing attacks…our young soldiers still dying…and our POWs – it’s all still there, driving our work and the determination to continue our cultural life.
After all, isn’t that what our survivors did? Some even found ways to celebrate Christmas during the Genocide, as Dr. Khatchig Mouradian wrote for the Weekly just a couple of weeks ago. Speaking of Mouradian, his significant, compelling and critically important book “The Resistance Network” is my selection for beach reading – the very illustration of my emotions during this trip.
What do I resist? I resist this century’s attempts to destroy my people and wipe Armenia and Artsakh off the map. I resist the hesitation to celebrate life and Armenian culture, for this is one way to ensure our survival. As the current editor of this historic publication, I resist attempts to silence our voices and inhibit the truthful reporting of current events.
And I write from AHC week in Punta Cana to demonstrate Armenian persistence, resilience… and faithful hope.