Dr. Irina Barseghyan-Krpeyan is preserving the legacy of Armenian freedom fighters

Dr. Irina Barseghyan-Krpeyan’s journey, both as a historian and as the wife of Tatul Krpeyan, National Hero of Armenia, is truly remarkable. Her dedication to preserving the memory of her late husband and the truth about his heroic acts is commendable. Their love story adds a poignant layer to the narrative, showing the human side of these courageous individuals who fought for their homeland.

It’s fascinating how their shared passion for Armenian culture brought them together. Tatul’s determination to make Irina his wife from their very first meeting speaks volumes about his character. His commitment to Armenian heritage, as evidenced by his involvement in dance ensembles, his poetry and his defense of the homeland, is a testament to his love for his country.

Irina, born in Vayots Dzor, met Tatul at Yerevan State University. They lived in the same dormitory building. She would hear songs from the second floor of the dormitory and realized that it was a group of Armenian men, led by Tatul. He loved to sing and dance Armenian songs. He created two dance ensembles, called Hayordi and Kars, where Tatul’s family was from.

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Irina and Tatul met at an event with their friends. During a ladies’ choice dance called Spitak Tango, he asked her to dance and whispered poems to her. She knew many poems, but she didn’t recognize them. He finally shared that they were poems he had written. 

“My friends would go and ask Tatul’s friends to dance. I was by myself, and he was by himself. He was expecting me to go and ask him to dance. When he realized that I wasn’t going to go and ask, he came and asked me to dance. It was during this dance that he was reciting his poems to me. During this time, he told me that I would become his wife. I looked up at him, since he was so much taller than me, and said, how could that be? We just met. He told me, you will see,” Dr. Barseghyan-Krpeyan recalled.

“He continued to study, as did I. We were active in all things Armenian. We dated and a few years later got married in 1989 and had Aspram. Tatul passed away in 1991, when I was just 23 years old and Aspram was a year and two months old,” she said.

“I continued the struggle. I’m a historian, lecturer and writer. Since 1991, I have studied and researched Getashen and my late husband’s heroic acts. Since 2000, I have been with Public Radio of Armenia, interviewing freedom fighters and other guests. My work consists of archiving and making sure that the truth comes out. We need to make sure that the stories of our heroes are preserved and available to anyone wanting to know the truth. My thesis was the first time that there was an emphasis on a national hero, a freedom fighter. I broke the mold and made sure that eyewitness accounts were available, documenting Tatul’s legacy. I will not allow false narratives by the enemy to be spread. We must show the truth to the world,” she continued.

Upon defending her dissertation, she received her doctorate in 2015. The book based on her dissertation was published in Armenian in 2016. The English translation of the book was published in 2019. After it debuted in England in 2020, the reception of her book in London, particularly Baroness Cox’s emotional response, showed the importance of her work on an international scale. It’s through efforts like hers that the truth about the Armenian struggle for freedom and the sacrifices made by its heroes will continue to be recognized and remembered.

“My book is about the freedom fighters, our men who were educated and loved the country, God and family. They gave the ultimate sacrifice for the homeland. They left everything to make sure our brothers and sisters in Artsakh would not be annihilated by the enemy. Our freedom fighters deserve to be honored with the truth,” Dr. Barseghyan-Krpeyan said.

Dr. Barseghyan-Krpeyan’s dedication to preserving the legacy of Armenian freedom fighters and documenting the truth about their sacrifices is admirable. Her commitment to incorporating first-hand accounts and evidence into her work ensures that the narratives of these heroes are accurately represented, countering the propaganda spread by adversaries.

Her ongoing project to document the first-hand accounts of the villagers of Getashen reflects her belief in the importance of exposing the truth, especially during a time when history seems to be repeating itself. By shedding light on the experiences of those directly affected by conflict, she continues to contribute to the collective memory of the Armenian people and the struggle for justice.

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The continuation of Tatul’s legacy through his daughter, Aspram, underscores the intergenerational commitment to the Armenian cause. Irina’s pride in her daughter’s devotion to the homeland reflects the resilience and determination of Armenian families to uphold their heritage and values. 

Tatul’s dual nature as both a gentle poet and a fierce protector of his homeland encapsulates the complexity of Armenian identity and the struggle for survival. Irina’s appeal to Armenian youth to embrace their language, culture and heritage is a poignant reminder of the importance of unity and solidarity in preserving the Armenian identity against external pressures.

In a world where misinformation and propaganda abound, her unwavering dedication to truth and justice serves as a beacon of hope for the Armenian community, inspiring future generations to carry on the legacy of their ancestors with pride and determination.

“Aspram continues her father’s legacy. She was instilled in the Armenian spirit at a very young age. Her devotion to the homeland is an area of great pride for the Armenian nation,” she said.

“Tatul was a gentle poet, but a lion protecting his homeland. We have always been Armenia, Artsakh and Diaspora. We can’t forget our roots. We have always won when we have been united and together. My appeal to the Armenian youth is to learn the language, follow our church and learn about our culture. This is crucial to remain Armenian,” Dr. Barseghyan-Krpeyan declared.

Talar Keoseyan

Talar Keoseyan

Talar Keoseyan is a mother, educator and writer. She is the author of Vanna's Adventures (discusses Armenian traditions and customs); Mom and Dad, Why Do I Need to Know My Armenian Heritage? (a children's book about being proud of our heritage); Our Tigran and Tigran's Song (written in honor of Tigran Harutyunyan, a fedayee from the 44 Day War). Talar was a member of the Philadelphia AYF (Papken Suni and Sebouh chapters), as well as Homenetmen, Hamazkayin and ARS. She is currently a member of the La Crescenta "Talin" ARS chapter. She can be reached at talar725@gmail.com or Hokees1111 on Instagram.

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