We’re back in Yerevan, taking a couple days to see the sights and visit more of FAR’s projects. Under the blazing mid-morning sun we headed to the Armenian genocide memorial and museum. I’ve visited memorials before and I have to admit that they are either hit or miss for me. Some I find incredibly moving (the Vietnam memorial in DC) and others just leave me slightly disappointed (World War II memorial). And while I was eager to see the genocide memorial, learn more, and pay homage to the lives lost, I was unprepared for just how much it was going to affect me.
At first, we stood mostly silent in the shadow of the 12 bowing pillars that encircle an eternal flame, a sign that this black mark on history remains as life continues. Inside, our museum tour guide, poised, straight-faced, and thorough, led us through each display, which chronicled the events leading up to the genocide, the horror of which it consisted, and its afterward. I can’t remember the last time I felt so moved.
As I listened to each piece, waves of emotion coursed through me. I felt disbelief, rage, compassion, sadness, and shock all at once. Why is this horrific historical event hardly touched upon in the majority of American schools? Why is this event still denied to this day, perpetuating more animosity and hatred between people? What would ever motivate some people try to eradicate the existence of another? Why why why did the whole world remain silent? And why does the same cycle continue to happen to this day? I know that these are not unique questions and thoughts. But seeing that that memorial and museum with my own eyes conjured up these feelings in a very real way. All at once I felt one step closer to a culture and a people I’m trying to learn more about each day, and I hope that through my work and studies I can somehow be a citizen who doesn’t remain nor accept silence. As cliché as it sounds, I hope to be someone who makes a difference in some small way. So, once again, to my wonderful travel partners and everyone in Armenia who I’ve had the privilege to have met thus far: Thank you thank you thank you. Thank you for teaching me, exposing me to new thoughts, and re-awakening my passion. As always, I’m eager for more.