Historians, leaders and poets alike, have defined a patriot as a person who sacrifices all which has to do with the self, for the good of the nation and homeland.
We, Armenians, often nostalgically refer to our turn of the 20th century freedom fighters or fidayees as our mythical heroes, the likes of Gevorg Chavushs, Serob Aghbyurs and Andraniks. What we don’t realize, is that their deserving descendents are living amongst us and are continuing the unfinished work of our history’s patriots.
The electrifying news of Arayik Khandoyan’s unexpected death at 47, shook us all from the bottom of our hearts. We had a modern day Gevorg Chavush living amongst our ranks, one who will continue to live for centuries in our hearts and consciousness, regardless of whether we’re in Armenia or spread out in the four corners of the world.
So how do we define a national hero, a modern day Chavush?
Is it volunteering at the front line at the age of 17, when your country needs you to most?
Is it being wounded 19 times by the enemy but relentlessly going back to continue the fight to liberate the homeland?
Is it the determination to leave the comfort of family life, a wife and five children behind, and for years, struggle against Armenia’s former ruling ruthless regime?
Is it the selfless participation in the 2016 Sana Tsrer’s takeover of a Yerevan police station, symbolizing the constitutional right and duty of every Armenian citizen to revolt against the brutal illegal regime that for years, ruled the nation using violence and terror?
Is it the refusal to be the victim in a legal case, when he was violently beaten by fifteen members of the Armenian police force for five hours continuously in the jail cell, and not wanting the public and media attention to sway from the nation’s cause to his personal suffering and human rights?
It’s all of the above, but it’s above all the gift of inspiring a nation to survive genocides, wars and dictatorial regimes and continue to thrive and be an inspiration to other nations of the world.
Aro and his innocent, humble smile, make us all realize that it was thanks in many ways to his relentless fight against enemy’s outside and inside our homeland, that we have today’s Armenia, and that we owe it to him and we owe it to ourselves, children of one nation living inside our borders or outside, to come together and build the Armenia Gevorg Chavuchs and Arayik Khandoyans dreamed of and continue to dream of.
Rest in peace Aro jan. Keep on inspiring.