By Garen Yegparian
Originally written last year–this piece remained unpublished. It sprang up in response to incidents during our 90th Genocide anniversary commemorations. Let it serve as a precaution for this year and an inspiration for the future. Let’s put this massive fountain of untapped enthusiasm to use in the service of our struggle.
What’s up with the honking cars wrapped and festooned with the yerakooyn?
Every April 24–the streets of our ghettos and areas near our gatherings and marches witness this phenomenon.
This year I personally witnessed a number of cases of truly unnecessary and reckless driving by the loud flagmobiles. Armenia’s–and not just the drivers–are the most likely to be hurt–so how do we benefit?
Last year–the Burbank Police Department had initiated a meeting with the Burbank Armenian National Committee to discuss this matter. They were concerned not just about safety–but also negative reactions from other citizens to this behavior. No doubt other police departmen’s share the same concerns.
Most Armenia’s who have commented to me about this action find it somehow inappropriate to the solemn nature of the day.
So where is this coming from? I suspect that deep down–it stems from a noble impulse. The mostly young drivers want to display their pride and make a statement on April 24. Of course this is likely coupled with the "need" to show off their wheels. That this particular manifestation is largely counterproductive probably escapes them. It could be harmless–but unfortunately–it has all the markings of a disaster-in-the-making–at least from a public relations perspective.
Fundamentally though–I blame our institutions–especially our youth oriented ones–for not engaging the positive initiative that leads to this behavior. These energies–harnessed to the service of our cause year-round would be a tremendous boon.
So hear this AYF–Homenetmen–AGBU Scouts–and yes even the church. Get busy and recruit these guys. Perhaps next year you might couple their energies with those of older car enthusiasts and a proper–safe–and dignified car parade could become an integral par of our Genocide commemorative activities.