Over the last several years, I’ve had the distinct privilege to work with the recorded materials collected by the late Dr. J Michael Hagopian. A survivor of the Armenian Genocide himself, Michael had the foresight to capture the voices of those who witnessed the atrocities first hand. Later this month, the USC Shoah Foundation will make a group of 60 of these interviews available through the Visual History Archive, ensuring that these recollections will be preserved in perpetuity, for future generations. Michael would have certainly been proud to witness this accomplishment. I always found him to be a man of conviction – a courageous individual who wanted to expose the world to the truth.
Mr. Lemyel Amirian touches on the power of courage. The Armenians of Van and the surrounding regions took extraordinary measures to defend themselves – and, like Mr. Amirian, fortunately, many survived to share their stories. Now, these interviews will be made publically available online all across the globe, and I am hopeful that it will be a source of courage for all those who view them. Sadly, a hundred years after the fact, denial and distortion is still commonplace. However, with a little bit of courage, I am certain that the Republic of Turkey can take steps towards coming to terms with the historical record and correcting the wrongs of the past. It is only then that healing will occur.
Hrag Yedalian, program administrator of Audiovisual Collections, oversees the USC Shoah Foundation’s Armenian Genocide collection. He has previously worked in state and local government and for various nonprofit groups. Hrag graduated with high honors from UC Berkeley with a BA in History and then went on to study film and video editing at the American Film Institute Conservatory (AFI).