How tempting it would be to rewrite Armenian history backwards and turn our moral victories into military ones as well. Yet that is not how the laws of time and space work.
As the Armenian nation inevitably marches forward, carrying the weight of millennia of existence in our conscience, we may also turn to the wisdom accrued during our long history. Familiarity breeds contempt, so we tend to pass over the major landmarks of the past with perfunctory reflections that come with the prestige of tedium.
Yet historical dates, as the feast of Sts. Vartanantz that we celebrate today, February 16, are opportunities to look back and see if we can draw new lessons from events that belong to a different world and era yet still feel so current. For what is the challenge Armenians and Armenia—including Artsakh, its integral part—face today if not a struggle to preserve our identity?
While volumes can be written about the major events of Armenian history, perhaps the moral remains deceptively simple, best summed up by Winston Churchill as the world was being drawn into a vortex of apocalyptic destruction and there were voices in the British cabinet urging appeasement: “Nations which went down fighting rose again, but those who surrendered tamely were finished.”
Our thousands of boys buried in Yerablur, for whose untimely death our hearts bleed every day, went down fighting in 2020 and again in 2022 for the right of our nation to exist and be what we have always been –Armenian. As their precursors at Avarayr in 451, their victory was not “only” moral. They ensured our survival and our rise, again and again, from the bottomless pits of defeat and genocide.