BY STEVEN J. DER-HAROUTUNIAN
The recent call for replacing the national anthem, Mer Hairenik, with the former Soviet Armenia anthem can only be viewed as an attempt to drive a wedge between our people when in fact the purpose of the revolution was to unify our nation.
When the obvious why is asked, we are given some dribble about musicality, why of course citing the trivial and impertinent armchair criticisms of some otherwise respected musicologists as the basis. While I will defer to others to scientifically debate the merit of one tune over another an anthem on the other hand cannot simply be judge in that manner. A National anthem doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
How an anthem can be solely measured by its musical quality 100 years after its adoption is shocking to the conscious of most of our nation who has answered the call of that anthem and its flag and all those symbols which represent Armenia and give character to the long struggle of the Armenian nation for its freedom and independence.
That anthem captures the sacrifice made by countless patriotic men women and children in that struggle for independence whether that was standing on the front at Saradarabad in 1918, standing in a hall in Davenport Iowa in 1946, on the cliffs of Shoushi in 1992 or holding onto the faith as a family in the darkest days in the early 1990s and standing firm on their small plot of land and choosing to stay without food, warmth and often without adequate shelter and tough it out as Armenians on their ancestral land rather than to leave for the chance of a better life in Russia, Europe or America as thousands of others did.
That anthem tells their story. A sacred story. A story of faith, struggle for freedom to live and if necessary die as Armenians for Armenia rather than to live and then to disappear among other nations un-moored to their land and lost like flotsam in the sea.
That is what is so confusing about this whole artificial controversy. Why is the musicality of the anthem now being challenged and called for replacing? Who are these adventurist political figures that today call for that?
Mer Hairenik does not need to win a Grammy award or be at the top of a charts to be our anthem. Its musicality is judged by what is represents and that is first and foremost freedom. No alternative song blessed by those who took away that freedom and held Armenia as a vassal state in their empire can ever ever be our anthem no matter how pleasant a rhythm and lyrics it have upon the ear, it is an insult to the heart and soul of our freedom and independence and what was spent and it spent to keep it in blood, sweat and treasure.
Which brings us to the question: Why would anyone raise this issue today?
When the Prime Minister has stated that repatriation, economic investment and military preparedness are the goals of this new government, how does replacing a 100-year-old national anthem accomplish any of those? In fact all this toxic divisive proposal has done is divide our nation, when in fact we should be standing united to face the real challenges our country faces such as population loss, unemployment and under employment, economic dependence and exploitation, poverty, inadequate healthcare and the need for a vigilant defense.
Today we as a nation look to leaders who will address those existential threats to Armenia and in doing so once again unify us as a nation. Mer Hairneik is one of the key symbols that does that.
Our nation looks to the Armenian government to responsibly act to unify us a nation not allow for dangerous opportunists to divide us.