By Taleen Babayan
FLUSHING, N.Y. — While almost 100 years have passed since the Armenian Genocide, the memories of the horrific massacres remain vivid in the minds of three genocide survivors who told their stories at the New York Armenian Home in Flushing, Queens on Sunday, March 27.
Arsaloys Dadir, Perouz Kalousdian and Charlotte Kechejian, residents of the Armenian Home, recounted their escape from the genocide to reporters representing local New York media organizations. While their stories seemed to have a common thread of suffering and survival, each lived different lives, hailing from different parts of Anatolia before the onset of the genocide.
The last memory 99-year-old Charlotte Kechejian has of her father is of him trying to hug her before being taken away by the Turkish soldiers during the Armenian Genocide. Forced to walk through the Der Zor desert during the death marches, she remembers how hungry and thirsty she was, gaining strength from her mother, whom she credits for their survival.
“I was hungry and not well-treated,” said Kechejian, born in Nikhda. “I didn’t know where we were going.”
Making their way to the US via Beirut, Kechejian and her mother moved to New York where her mother made a living by working as a seamstress. Her mother, who insisted that her daughter earn her high school diploma, eventually opened her own grocery store on 33rd Street in Manhattan, and with her daughter’s permission, remarried.