William Saroyan Speaking at Asbarez Day in Fresno

I cannot tell you how deeply grateful I am for the honor of sharing this day with you. I must say at the outset that it is quite natural for me to run away from speech-making, but on THIS occasion, it is a real pleasure for me to be with you.

I shall always remember this gathering as one of great importance to us. And I shall always remember this audience with pride, for to me it is the living symbol of the strength and vigilance of the Armenian people.

When a people are separated from their native land, they are in danger of losing their identity. A people’s identity is its culture-its refinement and purification of the experience of living-elevating it, over a period of many years, from an ordinary affair to one of dignity, honor, and durability.

There is no culture in the world today which the world can afford to lose, least of all, as far as I am concerned, the magnificent culture of the Armenia’s.

One culture enhances another, and all cultures make of the living a single race. A race of goodwill and good act. Thus, the youthful culture of our new homeland, America, enhances the older culture born into each of us who is an Armenian. For this reason, if we lose our identity and our culture, America itself loses a portion of that very element which is the source of its virtue and power.

As a living, growing people we are obligation not only to preserve our culture, but to extend it. Culture is not simply a thing to know about; it is rather a faith by which to live. It is a possession loaned to us by our race, and it is our DUTY to our race and to the world to preserve and extend it-to keep it breathing.

No culture can survive in books already written, in music already composed, in songs already sung, in paintings already painted, or in remembrance of the good life. Culture is an immediate thing-and must be charged with the fresh energy of the living.

I am proud that no force in the world-no accident of faith, no cruelty of history, no treachery of politics, no betrayal or ugliness of fellow man has ever succeeded in destroying in the Armenian people their culture-their love of right, their hatred of wrong.

Only in NUMBERS are we a small people.

The Armenian heart is still mighty and unconquerable.

As one who is privileged to be a member of this race, I know I do not speak for myself alone.

I KNOW I speak for all true Armenia’s.

The war we have always waged has been the good war, and I know we shall always wage that war with honor, with pride, and with dignity.

I say again: I am proud that I have shared this day with you.


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