It was pitch black. The horizon was nowhere in sight and the only source of light available were the countless amount of stars shining above us. Yet, I could not help but think that it was the most beautiful experience I had ever been a part of.
It truly is a different feeling, being a member of the first generation following the mighty freedom fighters of the Kharabakh War. It almost feels surreal to talk to actual people who lived under bombs raining above them, lost their children, fathers, or their own limbs. It hurt a lot to hear about the circumstances that people around me lived through only a couple of years ago. But what hurt the most was that I realized that I never had felt a real connection with them relative to what they had experienced.
All of that changed in the matter of an instance. Upon gazing beyond the darkness, the stars glistening above, and the cool evening breeze blowing around me, I felt like I was on top of the world. I found myself on top of one of the most meaningful memorials of the liberation of Artsakh. It was the only tank that was used by the soldiers who captured the city of Shushi. Sitting on top of it, endlessly singing patriotic songs with the Kharapaghtsi AYF and fellow Youth Corps members, I felt the unity of the future generations of our race who will continue the unfinished work of our fallen soldiers toward a fully recognized and liberated Artsakh. Though what struck me the most was that I truly felt the soldiers’ presence there; their voices echoing above the roaring gun fires, singing the very same songs in the very same place that we were at. What was the most interesting though, was the sense of peace and serenity I felt while sitting there. How can a mere object that has seen the worst of the worst type of violence, loss, and death, have such a peaceful effect on me? The answer to this question was much simpler than I thought. The answer was all around me. Every broken building, cobblestone, and tin covered roof signifies the dedication and will of the people who sacrificed everything they had to fight for their freedom; to be able to call these lands their own. The end results of this violence and torment is the reason Armenians in Kharabakh can grab a handful of soil in their hand and call it “Hyereni Hogh.” Realizing all of this within the relatively short amount of time we were sitting there had a very strong impact on me and helped me realize the true value of my lands, my people, and my culture. I have also realized how important it is to protect these sacred principles, as well as to preserve and constantly work hard to better them by any means possible.
As the general motto of Youth Corps states that our goal is to, “build bridges to our homeland,” I have come to the conclusion that that is not enough. Realizing how hard my people have fought for a liberated country to live freely without oppression or injustice, has given me the confidence to say that one day I will also walk across that bridge, ready to be a part of where I truly belong, my Hayrenik.