In just days now, Jon and I will be leaving for a two-week stay in Armenia. I’m desperate for a vacation but hesitant to use that word to define this trip; pilgrimage would be more fitting. This is not only a long-awaited first visit to my ancestral homeland, but it’s taking place at the time of the 100-year commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. I don’t need to see into the future to know that this will be a life-changing experience.
If you’ve even so much as skimmed past some news headlines recently, you’ll have no doubt heard about the Kardashian clan’s “takeover” of Armenia this past week. I admit it takes some honest effort for me not to immediately roll my eyes at the mere mention of their names, but ultimately, I have to appreciate that they’re sparking some renewed attention to our cause. The slogan for the Genocide Centennial commemoration is “We remember and demand,” but in order to remember, we first need to know. Any step toward awareness of this atrocity is a step in the right direction.
More importantly, Pope Francis spoke out this weekend and openly referred to the mass killings of 1915 as “the first genocide of the 20th Century.” The use of the word genocide is, in itself, a monumental show of support for our outcry to the Turkish and United States governments. I personally don’t stand behind #Turkeyfailed as the best words for our movement. There are more productive ways of voicing our grievances. Put simply, we demand recognition. It will never diminish the grief we’ve lived with for one hundred years, but it will bandage the wound and allow us, as a people, to heal.
That being said, I long for the day that my heritage is known for its cultural richness and not just for its tragedy. While I expect my pilgrimage to be filled with moments of solemnity, I hope to also enjoy the vibrancy of my country and its people. We are more than our scars.