By Michael Airumian
Special to the Armenian Mirror-Spectator
WASHINGTON — As I contemplated my trip to Armenia to spend two weeks at the Poqr Mher Cadet School, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Having visited the school for one day during the summer last year, this spring I conducted a fundraising drive to buy boots for orphans who attend the school. I also have been a member of the U.S. Civil Air Patrol since age 13, and understand to a great extent what it is like to be a member of a military style organization. Because of my interest in military history and because what I have seen of this school is impressive, I became interested in finding out more.
There might be some obvious similarities between my familiar Civil Air Patrol and Poqr Mher, and there are clearly some big differences, so I decided not to make assumptions and that it would be more interesting to take a deeper look at Poqr Mher in its own cultural context. On my flight to Armenia, I began thinking up the questions that needed an answer: Why does Armenia need a military educational complex for 6th graders? What similarities does this school share with Civil Air Patrol and how is it different? How will this experience give me a better understanding about both of our countries’ ideas about the next generation? Preparing to leave for my adventure at Poqr Mher, I thought about my fundraising efforts over the past year. I want to make a difference in the lives of others and my stay at the school could help me improve my future fundraising efforts.
Much information about Armenia’s recent military history can be found to answer the question “Why does Armenia need this school?” According to Robert Avetisyan, who is the Permanent Representative of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to the U.S., and someone I have met on numerous occasions:
“In 1988, Nagorno Karabakh (NK), a historically Armenian land and autonomous entity in the Soviet Union, petitioned the Central Government in Moscow asking to be reunited with Armenia. The Soviet Union and Azerbaijan denied Nagorno Karabakh’s appeal for self-determination. The situation escalated to conflict, as Azerbaijan resorted to pogroms and military aggression in an effort to suppress Nagorno Karabakh’s action. This violence was followed by the 1991-1994 Azeri-instigated war on the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR), which claimed thousands of NK casualties and destroyed an estimated 80 percent of Nagorno Karabakh’s economy. In the summer of 1992 Azerbaijan placed about 50 percent of the NKR territory under military occupation. Since the cease-fire Agreement of 1994, the conflict awaits final, peaceful, and equitable resolution through direct negotiations.”