We honored the dead yesterday, as hundreds of thousands of marched up the terrible hill to honor our heroes. The scenes of that day will be forever etched into my mind. It was hard not to be overcome by unsettling feelings of pride, shame, anger and solidarity all together combined in one package.
What we honored were the following:
- The crying mothers and stoic fathers at the head of each gravestone, both so strong yet so vulnerable.
- The 19-year-old fallen hero whose family had placed a second, slightly older, photo on his gravestone, and how he looked very much like my 14-year-old. This crushed me more than anything else yesterday.
- The single soldier who stood at attention in honor of his friend who he is now lost for eternity.
- The unbelievable grace and dignity of people paying their respects, few if any unmeasured words were uttered yesterday.
- Entire families and circles of friends and strangers surrounding each of our heroes’ grave sites. I was reminded of the fact that no Armenian lives alone and no Armenian dies alone despite all of our endless faults and perhaps because of death’s fascination with us. We know how life should be lived.
What we damned yesterday:
- The War industry and merchants of death who fill the cemeteries of the world to line their filthy coffers.
- Those in the Armenian diaspora resembling “summers soldiers and sunshine patriots” lining up street corners demanding war when it was not their kids going off to war.
- The social media and fake news warriors who lie, slander and cause division to score cheap political points when what we need is compassion, understanding and unity.
- The corrupt, lazy and incompetent generals who were not worthy of the men and women they lead into battle.
- Myself and my generation who, for the past 25 years, betrayed the young people of today by not building a proper economy, an appropriate military and competent state structures.
All I have written are mere words. Let us dedicate ourselves to the only thing that can honor these lost brave souls; namely, build a functioning, just and prosperous country. All else is empty talk.
Eric Hacopian is a political analyst and consultant. He and his family have lived in Armenia since 2017.