(Little mood music while you’re reading)

“Inexperienced, unarmed youth, refugees, even women and girls, without regard to class or faction, manned positions alongside the volunteer soldiers who for years had won their laurels on battlefields. All of them heroically confronted the assaults of the enemy’s regular armies.

The Republic of Armenia was born of the sacred Armenian blood spilled in abundance on the plain of Ararat.

Finally, the centuries-old dream of Armenians became reality. An independent homeland, on a portion of the historic lands of our forefathers. A preliminary step toward integral, united Armenia.

The Armenian people took in a deep breath of consolation, seeing the name of Armenia recorded – even if in small print – in a corner of the world map.”

-Alexander Khatisian, 19381

When you think of the perks of studying history, your first thought is probably, “Boy, I bet those guys get invited to all the awesome parties.” Well, obvs, that’s true. (Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to say, “Sorry, Giselle. I can’t make it this weekend but hugs and kisses to Tom and the kids!”) But besides the life of opulence historians lead, we also have the tendency to look at things in the long-term and place current events into a much broader spectrum. In that sense, it’s hard to scare a historian (unless you place me outside at nighttime, in which case, you will terrify this historian). How can you feel daunted at the task of, say, branding Armenia for global consumption when you think of the massive rebranding that went into converting the Armenian people to Christianity? What this outlook tends to do is also put a lot of things others may take for granted into a really exciting context.

September 21st is Armenia’s independence day. On this day, in 1991, “the Armenian parliament by a vote of 213 to 0 declared a sovereign state and seceded from the Soviet Union and two days later, on September 23, Armenia declared its independence. A new Armenian Republic was born.”2 What happened on September 21 was not easy. But as difficult as September 21, 1991 must have been, the real hard part started September 22, 1991 which was building a successful nation.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. “Do I really need to go the next level and interact with Armenia if I’m doing my part within my community?” With that question, the bespectacled, high-bunned historian in me wants to grab those people by their well-meaning shoulders and shake them mildly while politely exclaiming, “Your community role is vital but so is you connection to Armenia, new friend!”

Figure out what your role is and get on it. Interested in IT? Start a business. Want to help people? Create a kick-ass nonprofit. Gap year? Volunteer. Professional looking to put your experience to use? Volunteer here. Love working with young people? Do it. Passionate about something? Make a career out of it. Have a free summer you want to spend in Armenia? Lucky you. Just graduated high school? Enroll. Tired of talking about being a part of Armenia? Move here. Do something.

I know that I’ve put a pretty big task in front of you. But, just think like a historian and you’ll be fine. Remember, figuring out how to engage with Armenia can’t be much worse than what Trdat III had to get away with. “Everyone…everyone I’m going to need you to put down those pagan statuettes, destroy those Zoroastrian temples and exit the Hellenic ritual sites you’ve been used to for centuries and adopt this entirely new and foreign concept based off the fact that it’s what saved me from living the rest of my life as a wild boar. Good? Good.” Comparatively, what we have to do is cake.

Happy Independence Day, Armenia. To many, many more.

  1. Voices from the Past: Excerpts from the writings of Armenian Revolutionaries translated by Vahe Habeshian (Awesome book for anyone who wants to get a quick introduction to some of Armenia’s past intellectuals and soldiers.)
  2. A Concise History of the Armenian People by George A. Bournoutian (If the quote doesn’t pique your interest, the book itself is tricolor themed so if for no other reason, buy it for that.)