« Things we neither loved nor hated about Armenia: The Armenian language | Main | The Genocide Museum »

March 19, 2008

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Paul

Talking about the long slippery slope- I'm not a Soviet history expert but it seems to be that Armenians were constantly at the forefront of Soviet firsts, and always events that lead towards its downfall. Armenians pushed the boundaries through wanting to hold onto their past and culture as demonstrated in the 1965 demonstrations instead of forgetting the past like Soviets were supposed to. Armenians were also probably the first to hold huge public demonstrations demanding a change in their borders, which of course led to the first civil war within the Soviet Union over Karabakh. It was Armenia's furor over Soviet maintaining of the status quo in Karabakh that it was in the forefront of trying to go it alone and along with the Baltic states were the rebel republics refusing to cooperate during the August 1991 attempt to save the Union. Armenia was even the location of the 1988 earthquake which I've heard many call a huge nail in the Soviet coffin as well. I also think I've heard other Soviet firsts involving the Armenian SSR but can't think of them now.

I really liked the wall of lost towns, and got pictures of me with some of my own ancestral ones. It really is something to walk along the long path leading up to the memorial and passing name after name. Interesting comparison to the Vietnam memorial, interesting how this one predates it. The trees planted by famous people is a little kitsch. I think the spike is interesting, it's split and yet makes one tower. It represents eastern and western Armenia and how while there is the divide caused by the genocide they come together to make one Armenia, Armenians are a very symbolic people. One thing which ruins the flow a bit is the somewhat hard to notice graves of Karabakh soldiers off to the left of the monument. I've heard officials admit burying them there was at a time of intense emotion during the war and they probably wouldn't have done the same thing today. There was definitely a concerted effort to draw parallels between Karabakh and other events in Armenian history as you will find soldiers buried at other historic sites as well such as Sartarabad (battle field where Armenians finally turned back the Turkish army in 1918 in their attempt to conquer the Caucasus, so actually a little more appropriate.)
Also the music that was being played when I was at the memorial was beautiful and gave a real ethereal feel to the cave-like memorial enclosure in which you find yourself.

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