The Road Not Taken: The Story of St. Gregory The Illuminator And Armenian Nation- Now, Then, and Forever
Imagine that you are a child and are saved from death by your nanny. You are taken to a foreign country and raised in a new religion. Your father was accused of killing the King of your home country, so you go back to that country to take the punishment that was due to your father. Once back in your country, you are imprisoned in a pit for 13 years and once you get out you baptize the King who threw you in the pit and the entire nation. You then become the leader of the Christian Church which was the first Christian nation in the world. Sounds unusual? Sounds like he was a little different? Let us see what other others have described this road of his not taken.
Maybe because of my relationship with my relatives, or maybe it was my love for learning, but I have been totally captivated by Armenia, Armenian History, and the Armenian Virtual College. As one progresses through life, you realize that you are just the sum total of all your relatives who have come before you- so many people develop an interest to find out more about their own relatives.
This is exactly what I did when I enrolled in taking history courses at AGBU Armenian Virtual College. Little did I know at the time how much it would change my life or that at the end of September 2021 I would be writing an article that had the greatest influence on my life.
Through this journey, I have found that mine was also a road not taken by many and maybe that is what has gotten me closer to learn much about my direct ancestors who played such a vital role in the Armenian Church, Culture, and Politics.
Robert Frost may have said it best in his now-famous poem, A Road Not Taken:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
It truly was a tale of two cities for him.
Charles Dickens Said It This Way In His Tale Of Two Cities
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Finally, how can one person so deeply impact an entire nation? Look at what GK Chesterton wrote on this subject.
GK Chesterton explained it a little bit differently:
Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.
St Gregory The Illuminator saved a nation by giving it a reason to live. Now let us look at what does it mean to be an Armenian? This is a really difficult question to answer simply because Armenia itself has moved several times, as well as many of the Armenian people, have moved away from the homeland. Whether you left in the 12th century, the 10th century, the 8th century or the 20th century- the key is that you left. Today the country of Armenia has about 3,000,000 people living within the borders and another eight million living in over 100 countries all around the world. Actually, there are many millions if you count people like myself who’s last Armenian relative left the country in the 12th century.
The 1915 Armenian Genocide, known as the first modern-day genocide of the 20th century, was an orchestrated crime against humanity in an attempt to annihilate the Armenian people as the Turkish Ottoman Empire massacred 1.5 million Armenian lives. Ottoman authorities first deported, hunted, and murdered hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders to ensure the history of the Armenians died along with them, they then proceeded to do the same with the rest of the Armenian people. That is something that most of know about but, what I have learned through my classes is that the United States was proposing to send between 55,000 and 80,000 peacekeeping troops to Armenia. This was going to stop the Nationalist Turks from taking any part of Armenia. It would have also stopped the USSR from taking over Armenia in December of 1920. It is very possible that Georgia would also have not gotten into the USSR which would have taken out Stalin who was Georgian. Without Stalin, there may never have been a World War II. For the people who may not realize this, Armenian History played a real role in American Politics in 1919-1920 and created a climate that propelled the U.S. into making many costly mistakes when it came to foreign policy that still haunts us today. Oh, if they only knew more about Armenian History? Oh, if they only knew more about the importance of Armenia?
Late last year I finally made the decision to take some history courses through AGBU Armenian Virtual College. I have been able to study about my Armenian relatives and it was so exciting to learn so much about what they did in their lives. It was amazing and I can truly say it has changed my life forever. In the course of taking these courses, I was able to meet Ani DekirmenchyanShe is an amazing teacher. She has a real passion for Armenian history and a real flair for teaching online. She explained why she got interested in Armenian history as she explained, “ I got interested in Armenian History because for me it was the key to open the history of the ancient civilizations. The history of Armenia is related to the history of the whole world so learning it gives you a better and full understanding of World History.”
She then explained, “For me, it was a real privilege to work at AGBU AVC because it is an unbelievably warm and happy feeling to help people learn about our beautiful language/history and culture and follow the great mission behind the whole programs that the organization has. For some people we are the only opportunity to learn Armenian subjects and being a part of it is just amazing. I feel like a bridge between people who want to find their origins and their native land.”
On the feast day of St. Gregory, The Illuminator (Sept. 30) let us remember that converted a country that became the very first Christian nation. He was able to do something that no other single person had been able to do up to his day- convert an entire group of people. On his feast day, rest assured that he is watching over us today and over the country of Armenia. May God Bless Him Always and Bless Us That We Too May Live By His Spirit. Amen. Praise be to God Always. Comment below