By Patrick Azadian
I was in my early 20s, when some of my friends and I were involved in organizing an annual picnic commemorating Armenian Independence on May 28th (since then,
The event fell on the Memorial Day weekend, and notwithstanding the inconsistent spring weather, we often had a decent turnout from the local Armenian community.
Young and old enjoyed a day with their family and friends, and paid tribute to their heritage. The program often included game booths for kids, kebobs, as well as live Armenian music to entertain the attendees.
The event had a loyal following. This fact was most apparent whenever the weather would conspire against us, and the turnout would fall below our expectations. In these circumstances, some of the picnic-goers would kindly purchase the remaining marinated meat to help us with the expenses.
After years of attending the picnic, I started noticing a trend among friends. Some would leave the picnic early in order to attend the Greek Festival, a hop, skip and a jump away. I resisted the urge for a while, but decided to pay the Greeks a visit and see if I was actually missing out on something.
As I set foot into the camp of our ancient rivals, I immediately sensed a difference in the atmosphere. Under the abundant assortment of waving Greek and American flags, many in the large crowd were dancing to the sounds of Greek melodies from
All ages, Greek and Armenian, Latino and Asian, blonde and brunette, African and European ancestry, were there to get a taste of what it meant to be Greek for one day.
What was their secret in attracting such a diverse and large crowd? Our foods were similar, Armenian and Greek tunes from
I left the festival with a distinct sense of envy. My only consolation was that the Greeks wouldn't have been able to sell their leftover lamb to cover losses. As an Armenian, I always look for Pyrrhic victories.
To be fair, the two events entertained different audiences. Whereas the picnic was designed on a smaller scale for internal consumption, the festival was organized to accommodate a wider spectrum of the population. The festival offered an opportunity for Greek-Americans to introduce their culture to a larger American audience, an art that Armenians are not well adept at.
Recently, I came across a similar phenomenon. I was scanning through one of the programs celebrating the 100th anniversary of
Here again, I felt the community had missed an opportunity to reach out and present its unique interpretation of culture to neighbors and friends.
What is the reason for this Armenian handicap? I can just imagine some of the excuses we can come up with. Maybe we are not as numerous as the Irish, Germans and the Latinos, not as cool as the Italians, and unlike the Greeks, we don't hold the mantle of ancient philosophy and democracy. And of course, lets not forget the myth of the ever-united and highly organized Jewish community. Perhaps in the larger American picture, some of these arguments may be valid, but they don't hold much credibility in the scope of our city.
A hundred years from now, what will be the legacy of Armenian-Americans in
Isolationism should impede all of the above.
Source: FROM THE MARGINS