A 60-Year-Old Crime Uncovered

 Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 5 September 2015

Never in my life do I recall being so angry, so incensed, at the utter stupidity of the Armenians–Yes, I am including all the Armenians, though only one small segment is the cause of my agitation.

And, what is so amazing is that the event that has caused my distress took place more than 60 years ago.

In 1951, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) produced a massive and remarkable, 9×12, book dedicated to the Armenian boys and girls who fought in the Second World War, and it was called, modestly and simply, “Our Boys.”  I treasured it and kept it in a file cabinet, rather than on my book shelves, after skimming through it and seeing its value to future generations.

 Avedis Kevorkian, Philadelphia, PA  USA, 5 September 2015

Never in my life do I recall being so angry, so incensed, at the utter stupidity of the Armenians–Yes, I am including all the Armenians, though only one small segment is the cause of my agitation.

And, what is so amazing is that the event that has caused my distress took place more than 60 years ago.

In 1951, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) produced a massive and remarkable, 9×12, book dedicated to the Armenian boys and girls who fought in the Second World War, and it was called, modestly and simply, “Our Boys.”  I treasured it and kept it in a file cabinet, rather than on my book shelves, after skimming through it and seeing its value to future generations.

About five years ago, Greek friends asked me to help them compile a history of the Hellenes in Philadelphia centered on the only Hellenic Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I took out “Our Boys,” and went to the meeting. So impressed were they, the project manager asked to keep it for a week, and at the next meeting praised it to skies and said that he hoped that the Greeks could produce something equally impressive.  Their book, because of unique circumstances and the long history of the Post, is different.

“Our Boys” went back into safekeeping in my file cabinet.

Recently, I was asked by someone who was involved in the Philadelphia Genocide Centenary to help him put together a modest publication of 100 interesting facts about the Armenians of Philadelphia. During our discussion, he mentioned that others had said that one of the items should involve an early merchant whose name no one seemed to know because he was identified only by the name of his shop. Embarrassingly, I could not get it right, because his name is unusual, and it rattled around in my mind.

At home, I remembered ‘Our Boys’” and decided to check it because the merchant’s son was in the navy and had participated in the D-Day landings and had told me some unforgettable stories.

I took out “Our Boys” and went through all the names beginning with what I thought was the first letter of the man’s name.  No luck.  I tried another letter. No luck. I decided to start with the first name in the book. I went through the book, looking at each photo and reading the home town. About mid-way, I became uncomfortable because of a pattern I noted in the book. But I persevered. I went through every one of the approximately 4,282 names. No success.

I thought about what had bothered me, and then realized that many names were missing from the book.  I checked each name I could recall who I know served and who was not in the book, and then it hit home. The missing servicemen and service women had parents who were in or affiliated with one of the so-called Armenian “political” parties.

My blood started to boil, and boils still.

It was obvious what had happened.  The AGBU must have sent out word to all the Armenians and to all the Armenian boys and girls who had served to send in their details and their photos.

But, since this so-called “political” party was (and is, still) opposed to the AGBU, it obviously sent out the word to its people “Do not participate.”  How else explain the total omission of (at least Philadelphia) names who should be in the book?

One of the omitted was an airman who was awarded the nation’s second-highest honor for valor who told me that he was not expected to survive the wounds he received. Another was a Genocide survivor who had come to this country and who became an army officer and was awarded a medal for valor.  So, nowhere in the book do their names appear–neither among the survivors nor among the medal winners. Is this something that that so-called “political” party should be proud of?

Can you imagine how stupid were those who led that so-called “political” party to decree that none of the party faithful should co-operate and, equally (let us face it), the party faithful, (and Yes, the veterans themselves) that did not co-operate with the AGBU.

The world out there will not know that scores and scores of young Armenians who also fought (and maybe some of them died) are not in the book which will be seen as the definitive record of that period. It is not too strong a statement to say that this act of deliberately keeping out of the book their own sons was a crime against the Armenians. That the families–and, perhaps, their sons and daughters, as well–were willing partners in the crime does not lessen its wickedness.

This is the same so-called “political” party that divided the Armenians, divides it still, yet periodically demands “unity” (omitting the requirement that it be their unity).

No doubt the leaders of this unspeakably negative organization are pleased and satisfied with themselves that they have rendered into oblivion scores and scores of Armenian boys and girls who proudly served this country and whose names will not appear in a book that was designed to honor those who served. Whatever else the book did/does, it also serves to tell America that the Armenians were grateful for the freedom and liberty and the opportunity to make something of their lives and “here are our boys and girls who helped defend and preserve this country.”

It is hard to believe that any group of Armenians anytime in our long history has so ill-served the people.  And yet, their successors live on, continue to ill-serve the Armenians, and pretend that the rest of us should listen to their narrow views about the future of the Armenians and the Diaspora.

Why did I include all Armenians, in the first paragraph (above)?  Because I don’t recall hearing or reading anyone anywhere commenting on this sad episode in our history. If there was a voice, I will be the first to apologize and think that there may yet be hope for the Armenians.

But, if your mind is still in 19th-century Anatolia, where your body is apparently doesn’t matter.

8 comments
  1. “Our Boys”

    Avedis,

    You have all the reasons to safeguard “Our Boys” as a treasured archival material.

    To put things in perspective, it's fair to note that the book was published at the height of the Cold War–1951–when Stalin was still alive. The new kind of war had not spared the Armenian Diaspora. It was the era when the Diocese of Echmiazin See, that commanded all the Armenian Apostolic Churches in the United States, refused to offer sacraments to those it considered sympathizers of the Tashnag Party, let alone party members. The Prelacy of the Cilician See would be established seven years later (1958) on the East Coast. It is very possible, if not probable, that the editors of the book chose to ignore or not pursue gathering information from the “other side”.

    Ascribing the incomplete work of  “Our Boys” to the  members and synthesizers of the Tashnag Party appears awfully biased.

  2. Assumptions, Suppositions

    Author Kevorkian and letter-writer Vahe make the same mistake.

    Kevorkian avers, without evidence, that certain Armenian veterans were not included in the veterans' book because they were Tashnag and were told by that political party not to participate. Vahe says, "it's highly probable, if not possible" that the editors chose not to gather data about the "other side" [Tashnags]."

    Resorting to "probable" and "possible" begs the question.

    Back to research, gents.

  3. “Our Boys”

    First.  Since I didn't mention the name of any so-called Armenian "political" party, how did these two gentlemen come to the conclusion that they have?

    Second.  How would the editors of the book know that a submitted name belonged to someone who "belonged" to an Armenian so-called "political" party–and which one?

    Third.  For all I know, some of the 4282 names do belong to the so-called "political" party.  I was speaking of the missing names in Philadelphia.

    Fourth.  Where is any denial of my conclusion from the present-day leaders of the so-called "political" party.  Did their predecessor issue such a decree?

    Fifth.  Instead of challenging or denying my conclusion, permit me to suggest that the critics (present and future) run their own mini-tests and check on whether their relatives and friends who served in World War Two are in the book.  

    Avedis Kevorkian

    1. Reply to Kevorkian

      As much as I hate to apply the hackneyed "disingenuous" to describe Mr. Kevorkian's reply, I can't think of a better word. One doesn't have to master the definitive history of Armenians in the 19th and 20th centuries to identify the unnamed organization as the ARF.

      I very much doubt it was the Rosicrucians or the Illuminati.

  4. A Name

    I would like to know if my uncle's name is in the book: George Davidian of New York.

    Of course I don't want you to go through all 4,000-plus names… only if they are in alphabetical order.

    Thank you.

    Carolann Najarian

  5. Our Boys
    In answer to the request of Carolann Najarian, Yes, there is a Sgt. George Davidian, from New York, who served from December 1942 to December 1945, 22 months of which were overseas, in the Tank Corps.  He earned a Bronze Star.

    Avedis Kevorkian

  6. There is another book

    If your concern is that some who served in World War II would be forgotten because of their exclusion from the book "Our Boys", then you should know that there is another book "The Armenian American in World War II" by James Tashjian. Tashjian mentions a number of sources, including the Hairenik Weekly (today known as the Armenian Weekly) and the Hairenik Daily, both publications of the ARF. He also made use of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, a publication of the Ramgavar party. Also mentioned are special issues of the compatriotic unions. He does not claim for it to be complete. The book seems to include information on about 1000 of those that served of the reported 18500 (the authors figures). The book was published in 1952.

    Two possibilities have been offered, one by the author of this article (Avedis Kevorkian) and another by another poster. The one that the ARF boycotted the publication of Our Boys and the other that the editors of Our Boys chose to exclude references to ARF members and their family. There is a third possibility not mentioned, that the division in the community, particularly at that time, would not allow for complete knowledge – i.e. we know who we associate with. It is similar to Kevorkian not mentioning the existence of Tashjian's book – I assume it was not purposeful, but just because he was unaware of the publication by a Dashnag. In any event, it is all speculation, so in the absence of any evidence why assume the worst.

    George

    1. “Our Boys”

      The existence of another book devoted to the Armenian young men and women who served in WWII is news to me and I am indebted to George Aghjayan for this news.

      However, that this so-called "political" party saw fit to continue to divide the community even as to the listing of those who served this country shows how narrow is what passes for their thinking. I could not have imagined how utterly stupid the Armenians can be, and this fact shows that I still have much to learn.

      Avedis Kevorkian

Comments are closed.

You May Also Like
Read More

«Հայկական Փողոց»

Դոկտ. Հրայր Ճէպէճեան, Նիկոսիա, 23 Յունիս 2016  «Ուրբաթ Օրերը Աշխատանքը Կը Դանդաղի» Պուէնոս Այրես, Արժանթին: Մայիս 2016: Իջեւանած…
Read More