What the 1918 Independence represents is more than just our nation’s resilience to, in the face of Genocide, liberate the Armenian people after centuries of imperial rule. The Independent Republic of 1918 is also the reason why there is a Republic of Armenia today for if it were not for the heroic determination of Armenians 93 years ago, Armenia could have been swallowed by oppressive forces and could have ceased to exist.
In 1918, the fledgling Republic faced challenges far greater than the ones facing Armenia today, yet the imperative to rise and fight a battle for independence far outweighed any obstacle for it was the survival of the nation at stake.
The lessons of 1918 are far too great and have been catalogued for our readers to appreciate and for history to be recorded. However, as we celebrate the 93rd anniversary of Armenia’s independence, there seems to be resistance, or downright neglect, in embracing the lessons of 1918 and applying them to our modern-day republic.
The priority for the government of 1918 was to secure a future for the people of the republic and as such, it created institutions—social infrastructure—that could address the needs of the people and grow with the participation of the people.
The leadership then was not out to assert itself, by all means necessary, and to manipulate the laws of the land to secure its positions and in the process loot the country of the national wealth. It certainly would not have toyed with our national values—and security—for the sake of establishing relations with neighbors. After all, in 1918, the people fought tooth and nail to preserve our nation.
On the international front, the Armenian Republic’s leaders also worked hard to establish an image of Armenia in the international community. An image, which stemmed from pride and conviction and not one that is easily swayed by outside pressures and interests. What resulted was the signing of the Sevres Treaty and the mandate placed on the US, which produced the Wilsonian Arbitral Award to Armenia.
These are key elements that are not outdated or out of reach. They should become the driving force for the Armenian government today and rallying force for the Armenian people around the world as we prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Armenia’s independence in September.
For now, we bow our heads to the heroes of Bashabaran, Gharkiliseh and Sardarabad.
Happy Armenian Independence Day.