Vartan Matiossian, Executive Director of the Eastern Prelacy, presented Gurghen Sarkissian’s bilingual edition of “My Memoirs (1914-1921)” last Sunday, June 13, at the hall of the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church in Philadelphia, under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, following Divine Liturgy. The Prelate was accompanied by Rev. Fr. Vahan Kouyoumdjian, Outreach Pastor, who officiated the Divine Liturgy and delivered the sermon.
Dr. Matiossian, editor and translator of Sarkissian’s memoirs, discussed details about the preparation of the book, saying that the Armenian manuscript left unfinished in the early 1970s—the author passed away in 1972—had pleasantly surprised him as he had come to know a remarkable figure that had been forgotten. He added that the memoirs were worthy of attention even in their incomplete state.
Dr. Matiossian expressed his regret that the author had been unable to write about the 1921-1965 period of his life, especially his theatrical activity, his student years at Prague’s Charles University, his activity in Romania’s Armenian community, his arrest by the Soviet invading army in 1944, and the harsh years of exile in Siberia before joining his family back in Romania and then emigrating to the United States, where they settled in Philadelphia. The wealth of information in the memoirs, Dr. Matiossian said, required exhaustive work to annotate the volume and reconstruct the author’s biography. The bilingual book is a valuable testimony about the crucial period in the life of Eastern Armenia as well as the first Republic of Armenia.
Mr. Victor Sarkissian, the author’s grandson, also addressed the audience, thanking Archbishop Anoushavan for undertaking the publication of the memoirs and Dr. Matiossian for the critical editing of the volume. He evoked the memory of his grandfather with moving words, saying the book presented a fuller portrait about Gurghen Sarkissian’s life and work.
In his closing remarks, the Prelate extolled Gurghen Sarkissian as one of our “humble heroes” and commended Dr. Matiossian for his meticulous work. He also thanked Victor and Stephanie Sarkissian who entrusted the publication to the Prelacy and sponsored it.