Five years ago, Missak Keleshian discovered, in St. Joseph college cemetery at Antoura, the tombs of the orphans who had survived the Genocide and who were the victims of the plan drawn in Lebanon to oblige them to become Turks. The place can be reached by heading for Kaslik highway and turning to the right and going straight at 3.5 km from the Presidence square. On Wednesday, the 22nd of September 2010, at 5:00 PM, a monument was inaugurated and a requiem mass was said in front of it. The Armenian community in Lebanon participated in great numbers as a mark of respect.
On this occasion, the secretary-general of Bzommar congregation Father Nareg Louissian addressed the present people by making a speech that we present below:
« Neither fire nor sword nor water can separate us from our faith. You torture us but we endure by having your sword on our necks ».
It is by drawing inspiration from the spirit of the letter sent by the Persian king Hazgerd of the martyrs of the battle of Vartanantz, that the Western Armenians were guided after 15 centuries by refusing this time the policy of their conversion to Turks, which was planned and applied in 1915 by the federalists.
Because there isn’t a love more noble and an attachment more sublime than the love and attachment that a man nourishes towards his nation and his faith.
And I will add by affirming that we will move forward with this motto a thousand more years, when neither the « pacts » between Armenia and Turkey nor the globalization policy that is threatening the 21st century will be able to stop us from claiming our rights that are shown through this large number of people who are here today to renew their vow and to say, to the knowledge of the world, that neither the space of time nor the political changes can stop us from claiming our rights until our Case comes to its logical end.
During the Genocide, the Turkish government deported by force around 600000 Armenians from their country of origin to Mesopotamia and Syria.
On the way, the big part of the deportees was massacred by the Turkish slaughterers, while some were the victims of hunger.
And the ones, who dwelled in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt or went to the European countries and America, became the claimants of the Armenian Case.
It is in St. Joseph college located in the beautiful region of Antoura in Lebanon, that the most painful and tragic event was inscribed on one of the pages of the Armenian people’s history
In this place, the Turks commited a big crime that was planned and organized against all the Armenians. 300 innocent Armenian children and adolescents were deprived of their parents’ love and tenderness, their native country and the Christian faith. They forbade them to speak the Armenian language filled with St. Mesrob’s spirit, so that they oblige these poor and abandoned orphans of the Armenian nation to become Turks.
95 years have passed and we are gathered here again to say the requiem mass and to light the candles in order to renew together our vow to stand firm about the will of our one and a half million martyrs.
This finely sculptured cross-stone (khachkar) coming from Armenia is and will remain as the witness and the symbol of the Armenian people’s love towards their nation, Church and culture.
This cross-stone symbolizes the Armenian people’s immortality, hope and eternity.
April 24 is not a month of mourning and lamentation anymore for us, the Armenians, but it is for living and surviving. It is the symbol of victory because the adversary wasn’t able to realize his barbarous plan and wasn’t able to wipe our race and native country off the face of the earth.
Let’s listen to the call of our thousands of martyrs saying to us: «Armenian people be united and be strong », because when our people think, work and fight together, they will certainly win the victory and will last forever as the poet Yeghishe Charents had prophesied by saying « Armenian people, your only salvation is in your united force».
Dear compatriots, we are one nation. Every one of us inherited from the mother country the belonging to one nation and this belonging will safeguard the Armenians of the Diaspora. The unity must become radically a way of thinking and a way of working for our people.
Therefore, by remaining faithful to the will of our history, let’s say that we are one people who speak one language and have one native country and make one claim and that we are united. Let’s decide to advance with this ideal by listening to the call of the martyrs in the world as well as of our martyrs who spilled their blood for the native country and let’s advance for centuries by deciding to « conquer death by death ».
And you, Armenian teenagers, are the hope and the future of the native country and the Armenian nation. Therefore, love the native country, the native language, the Armenian literature and raise the national dignity and keep pure the best national heritages. Under these conditions, we can only wreck the barbarous plans of Jamal Pasha and Halide Edip Hanimin as well as other enemies. Under these conditions, we will only be able to cure the deep wounds of the Armenian people.
«Let the memory of the virtuous people be blessed, Amen».