Musings on the daily events in politics and sports as well as some local bar stops along the way in LA.

Monday, September 19, 2005

My journey to Armenia and Moscow day by day (entry 6 Hovigs grave)

The first clear day since I’ve been in Armenia was about a week into the trip. Why is a clear day so important in Armenia? Because that’s when Mt. Ararat is completely visible. Its tough to get a clear day to see Ararat because its so high up and theres a bunch of lakes on there apparently so there’s always clouds at the summit. The group tour for that day was to go to the haghtanag (victory) museum so I figured it was either a museum about Artsakh (which I know it wasn’t) or it was a museum about morals, because the entire history of Armenia is all moral victories. From Vartanants on all we’ve had are moral victories so our victory museum must be a museum about morals. Since we didn’t want to go to the moral museum we decided it was the perfect day to go to Dzidzernagapert (Genocide memorial) and Yerabloor since we missed those activities. Some of the people who were stuck in London also missed those so they jumped on board the plan. So we get to dzidzernagapert and not only is it a very somber and powerful place as it’s the genocide memorial in Armenia, but they play the saddest possible music. It’s like they thought: just in case the history and the memorial aren’t sad enough and might not be able to affect you, lets play this slow and sad Armenian music just to get that little edge to put you on the verge of tears. Since Ararat was clear for the first time that just added another random factor to how powerful this moment was. The actual monument consists of a obelisk that is split in the middle which connects at the top which signifies historic Armenia and current Armenia and how they will one day be united. Ararat towers over the obelisk, the architects really knew what they were doing with this one. Then theres the eternal flame, which is exactly what an eternal flame should be, a flame that never turns off.
From there we went down to the genocide museum which is conveniently located right by the monument. The president of the European Union was there that day so there was a lot of press present. The museum was pretty good, it had a bunch of paintings by an artist that were really good, I wanted to buy a poster or something but then realized a poster of dead people probably isn’t the best thing to have on my wall. There was a list of every country that has passed a genocide resolution and when they passed it. Conspicuously missing of course was the United States. My favorite one was when the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh passed a resolution condemning the Armenian Genocide, I wonder if that was a close vote. So I move on to the gift shop expecting there to be postcards and posters and other stuff you see at museum gift shops, but once again the capitalists haven’t made their way to Armenia yet. There was just a few books (although the girl who works there was ridiculously hot, and I know its wrong to think that but its was the comment every guy who left that place was thinking so its ok).
Then we step outside and see the area where all the dignitaries who come here plant trees in memory of the victims of the genocide. There were trees planted by various heads of states and legislators from around the world. But far and away the country that was represented with the most trees (and its not even close to 2nd place) was the U.S. More U.S. Congressmen have planted a tree than any other country. This was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen and I’ve never been more ashamed of the U.S. than at this moment! A few minutes ago I was looking at a list of countries to have passed genocide resolutions where the US was obviously absent, but then I go to the tree planting area and see all the US politicians have planted a stupid tree. Ya, its easy to plant a tree but when push comes to shove and we actually look for the US to make a real statement by passing a resolution, they send us another member of Congress to plant a tree. Get those trees out of my face and give me a resolution. (By the way House international relations committee just marked up the genocide bill and even Lantos voted for it, so send your webfaxes so Mr. Dennis I take bribes from Turks Hastert, (check out the Vanity Fair article) can bring this up to a vote
From Dzidzernagapert me, Sevag and Ara decide to check out the cemetery weve heard about, Yerabloor. We take a cab there and head up the hill. The first thing we see is a random monument which when we get to we realize its the ASALA monument and the members are buried there. I just thought this was a random cemetery where some important historical people were buried, now its looking like this is more than that. So while im checking out the names and the dates I see Ara walking around and is now randomly talking to someone who looks like a soldier. I go up to Ara and it turns out he’s talking to a former Karabakh soldier whose going to give us a tour of the entire cemetery. Also turns out that this is the equivalent of Arlington National Cemetery and that everyone cant be buried here. He gives us a tour of the place and is telling us the story of most of the people who are buried there, every single soldier has a crazy story that goes along with them. This is the cemetery for the karabakh soldiers. He was saying how the four graves that we saw at Dzidzernagapert, which we couldn’t figure out who those people were, were the first four people to die in the Karabakh war and they thought it was going to be a short war so they buried them there, but once they realized lots of soldiers were going to die they opened up this cemetery but left the original four at dzidzernagapert. We’re seeing the graves of all these diasporan Armenians who bought guns and flew in to Armenia to fight for their homeland. Turns out not that many came from the US. We like to talk a big game but apparently we don’t act on that (while I was 8-12 during the war I’m still not one to talk because I’m sure if I was older I probably wouldn’t have gone either, especially since I had never even seen the lands back then.). BUT one of the Americans who did end up fighting and dying in Artsakh was Arshag. The soldier is telling us the story of Arshag and how he bought his gun and flew to Armenia to fight in the war and ended up dying in battle. When he finishes that story he goes on to tell one of the craziest facts I’ve ever heard in my life.

He’s telling us how Apo from Fresno was friends with Arshag and helped out with his tombstone being built so to return the favor now his son Hovigs name is engraved in the tombstone too. He tells us that Hovig died last year in a car accident. That’s when chills went up all 3 of our spines simultaneously. I ask “you mean Hovig Saghdejian?” He replies yes did you know him? I cant even explain the emotions and craziness of that moment. I didn’t know Hovig had a tombstone in the most respected cemetery in all of Armenia where only soldiers are buried. The tombstone read “Hovigits yev Frensoyi Apoyits” Randomly I was with Hovigs cousin Ara and my brother only 3 of 5 people on this trip who knew Hovig. I was just at his one year memorial where I first saw his tombstone in Fresno a month ago, now I’m reading his name on a tombstone in Armenia. Words really cant express what went on at that moment. I thought I was coming to a random cemetery, boy was I wrong.

From there we went on to see Sosse Mayrigs grave, General Antranig, Vasken Sarkisian, and the soldier who was hacked to death by the Azeri soldier at the UN Partnership for Peace conference. We moved on to the chapel and lit a candle for everyone we just saw, gave the tour guide a few bucks so he can drink some beers with his friends Hovig style and went on our way trying to make sense of that moment. Then we went on to some gas shots and typical Yerevan style partying.


Blogger Ray said...

I really love your blog!

I've bookmarked it and told my blogger freak friends about it. It's intelligent, sometimes funny and refreshingly honest. Keep Up The Good Work!

For any of your readers who want to contribute to the Red Cross to aid the many families who have been devastated by Katrina, there is a link at thissite

1:32 AM

Blogger myron85stevie said...

Just passing by your blog and though you'd like this website.

8:08 PM

Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

8:42 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home