Tuesday July 27, 2010 was not like any other ordinary day we’ve had here in Gyumri, Armenia so far. Instead of going home or to the ARF getron after camp, we walked through the hrabarag to the Seven Wounds Church along with our 85 campers to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the death of five young, brave men.
As we commemorated the memory of the Lisbon 5 operation on that day, it was a feeling I couldn’t help but stop and think; I was doing something I have never done before—I was in the homeland, raising awareness of the Armenian Cause. We walked from school through the Harabarag and to the church with our 75 campers, who were all singing Mshag Panvor and waiving the Armenian and Tashnagtsagan flag. Our procession garnered much attention, with people approaching us to ask what we were doing. It was truly amazing.
At the church, we had a candle light vigil for the death of Sarkis Abrahamian, Setrak Ajemian, Vatche Daghlian, Ara Kuhrjulian and Simon Yahniyan—the five young men who sacrificed themselves in Lisbon to raise the hopes and ambitions of our people. After the church ceremony, we went to the center of the Harabarag and sang the Lisbon 5 song we had spent weeks trying to teach the kids.
It was so gratifying hearing the kids sing this song with such accuracy and pride after several days of difficult practice. Hearing these kids sing and seeing them commemorate these five men brought tears to my eyes. It had taken all the will in my power to not cry, at least not in front everyone.
After we sang Lisbon 5, we sang a few more heghapokhagan songs along with a few of the kids. We sang Kedashen and Kini Litz along with a few others. To be able to be in Armenia and commemorate the Lisbon 5 anniversary is definitely a different experience from what I usually do in America on July 27.