A Tribute to Unger Tigran

Tigran Sarkouni
Tigran Sarkouni

Tigran Sarkouni

Tigran,

It seems like yesterday when the entire kazm (body) of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern United States Central Committee attended your wedding in Los Angeles.

Where has all the time gone?

***

I met Tigran some 20 years before we were elected to the Central Committee together. Tigran was related to Der Gorun Shirikian’s (Greater Detroit) wife Arpine, another fellow Anjartsi to Tigran. While visiting his relatives in Detroit, I met Tigran at a public program at the Dearborn church. As a new arrival to the United States, he turned to me—a perfect stranger—and asked in Armenian “inchu khatchuh droshaken arach kuh kaleh?” (Why does the cross precede the flag in the procession?)

“It’s an American tradition,” I said.

This innocent question of a young man, a recent immigrant related to the clergy, illustrates his profound sense of Armenianism in his newfound home, the United States

I can never forget his dry wit and perspicacity in both half-serious and joking comments on so many issues that we were involved in. He always revealed the correct path for us to follow.

For example, I can never forget his analysis about how the Armenian people were far too intelligent to be fooled by a ridiculous explanation of a bad decision we may have made as community leaders. He once asked, for example, “do you think that they would forgive us like the Egyptian people did after losing the Six Day War in 1967, where tens of thousands were gathered in a great public square to hear their leadership’s explanation for that great tragedy? There, Abdul Gamal Nassar, the Egyptian President said, ‘we lost because they fooled us; they did not fight fair; we thought they would attack us from the sark (east) but instead they came from the gharb (west). In agreement with that inane explanation the great throng shouted—Nassar! Nassar! Nassar!”

He said all this in a mocking tone—partially in Arabic—to make his point.

To illustrate his joking personality, some years later when he had moved to California sand was serving on the ARF Western U.S. Central Committee. I was attending a joint meeting of the two U.S. regions. While visiting Tigran before the meeting, he took me to several places in Glendale. We stopped at a location where several ARF members were present. They were obviously not in full agreement of some decisions that had been made in the region. After egging them on about their issues, and never fully explaining who I was, he chastised them to be careful about their inappropriate remarks. “Unger Apigian here is also a Central Committee member—of the Easter region—and will report about you all!” We then all burst out laughing at his self-incriminating joke.

I will miss him greatly; miss staying with him in his Mount Olympus home instead of my own family when I was in town.

Hogheh tehtev kah, unger.

Ned (Nishan) Apigian

Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

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