Concluding my third week of internship at the ANCA-WR so far has been an insightful journey and a learning experience. Our weekly Wednesday meeting at the ANCA-WR took me back to the 1900s to one of the exceptional Armenian national figures whose philosophy played a major role in the establishment of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) in the United States.
«Ապրել ու գործել միայն այն բանի համար, որի համար արժե մեռնել, և մեռնել միայն այն բանի համար, որի համար արժեր ապրել»:
“Live and work for something which is worthy to die for, and die for something which is worthy living for.” This was the philosophy of Garegin Njdeh, a military leader and national hero for the Armenian people. Njdeh was born in Nakhichevan, where he received a Russian education. Later in his life, he led an anti-Bolshevik uprising in Syunik in 1921. Njdeh is famous for a number battles. He created Armenian volunteer units within the Russian army to fight against the Ottoman Empire. Njdeh’s outnumbered army managed to defend Karakilisa in 1918, by pushing back the Ottoman forces and conquering Erznka, Erzerum, Sarighamish, Kars, and Alexandropol. Overall, he played a crucial role in the preservation of the Armenian statehood.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Armenian American communities were spread throughout the East Coast. There were a number of dispersed Armenian youth organizations associated to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). However, in 1933-34 the ARF central Committee of America decided to create a national youth organization by unifying all the existing chapters and opening new ones throughout United States. Since Njdeh’s philosophy had played role in the unification process, he was invited to the United States to take part in the establishment of AYF. His inspirational teachings attracted thousands of new members to the recently founded organization.
Being an Armenian American youth, I feel an immense honor being part of the immortal legacy of Njdeh, by interning at the ANCA. Njdeh’s beliefs have become an ideology to follow in my life and pursue ambitions which will be worthy to live and die for.