100 Years of Forgiveness

Growing up I remember hearing about Armenian genocide stories first hand. Usually at family dinners in Fresno where Grandpa Kay (Rustigian) would sit and talk at the head of the table. His usual strong voice somewhat soft.

As the patriarch of the family we didn’t prod him to talk about these things, they were stories he wanted to share. They were painful stories to tell but they were memories. I was too young to understand them all. But they were powerful and they were his stories to share.

Grandchildren of the Armenian genocide carry something special with us. Memories that left an imprint. Voices that we won’t forget. Stories that bond us to other families and our own families scattered around the world. Stories that help us find our families on Facebook. Stories that hopefully one day lead us to find the marker tree in Kharpert that was the center of so many of Grandpa Kay’s stories.

Years later I am hopeful more people will continue to learn about the Armenian story. It’s up to the grandchildren and one day great grandchildren to continue the legacy.

Criticize Kim Kardashian as you will, but no one else has reached more people with a single tweet than she has. Apple will go down in history today for launching the Apple Watch, while Steve Job’s story about being adopted by an Armenian mother and visiting Turkey may be missed. Google passed on an opportunity to change the Google Doodle to an image memorializing the genocide. However it did add a black ribbon to the homepage of Google in Armenia.

But today shouldn’t be about criticizing the United States, Obama or Turkey.

I have Armenian first cousins and family in Istanbul. I have Turkish friends who didn’t learn about the Armenian genocide ever until they came to the U.S. who are more sympathetic than any of our governments ever have been. While we hope our official governments will acknowledge truths we know are true, it’s up to us to continue building bridges and sharing our stories.

Today should be about remembering our family stories and sharing our memories with others.

For me today is about respecting lives lost and celebrating lives that survived. And to forgive in ways only 100 years allows for.

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