BY GARO B. GHAZARIAN, ESQ.
By mere fortuitousness, I find myself in Los Angeles, where though I live without the challenges of those I’ve left behind 42 years ago, it is not lost on me, and it can not really be lost on anyone, that wherever we have ended up, anywhere we live that is not Armenia, it is so, as a direct consequence of the Armenian Genocide.
When you say to yourself, I live in LA, but I once lived in Beirut, and, “but for” my parents and their parents not having ended up in Beirut, I very well could be among those who live in and make up the Armenian Community of Lebanon, then and only then does it become crystal clear why it is imperative to rally everyone around you to donate to #HyeAidLebanon.
Yes, I no longer live there. But what would I have been hoping for if, JUST IF, as fate would have had it, I lived there today, on August 3 or 4, or this week, or more to the point, after the catastrophic explosion at the Port of Beirut.
While I spent my early years in the United States pondering why is it that I was the unlucky one to no longer be living in the midst of the warmest and fiercest Diasporan Armenian Community, I find myself this August, 42 years since the August which saw me leave the only place I had known as home—Bourdj Hammoud—pondering over and over again, why have I since 1978, no longer am physically there while others continue to live there?
They could’ve been me. But, they are not. I am not in their midst. Yet, I am one of them. I AM them. And one thing has been beyond certain to me from early on in life. Some call it street smarts. I call it “Armenian survival instincts.” If we do not help ourselves, if we do not stand up for our own, and fight for and beyond our mere survival, no one else will.
Today, more than ever before we must empower one another to rise fiercely for ourselves, by donating to “HyeAidLebanon,” a Pan Armenian Council of Western United States initiative to provide assistance to the Armenians in Lebanon. After all, who are we, and what’s in a name? Frankly, everything!
Say our name. Call me Bourdj Hammoud because I have never stopped really seeing my true self and feeling the most comfortable in my skin more so than when I am in Bourdj Hammoud.
Bourdj Hammoud is me. Beirut is you. And, the Lebanese-Armenians are us.