Thursday, May 21, 2009

What a trip! We are off to Turkey!

Why Turkey?

First, some history about "The Amirian Family".

My maternal grandmother and her younger brothers Nishan and Diran, and sisters Zorah and Rose, were survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. They were born in the village of Dickranagert (now Diyarbekir) in the southeast of Turkey. That land was once part of Armenia, including the 17,000 foot Mount Ararat.
My paternal grandmother Ovsanna was also from Dickranagert - she was first cousin to Queeny, Nishan, Rose and Diran.

After seeing their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandmother massacred, the Amirian children walked through the mountainous terrain ending up in the village of Merdin (now called Mardin). Zorah, Queeny and Rose became servants to Turkish families at the approximate young ages of 15, 13 and 10. Younger brother Nishan was taken in by a Turkish family.
Youngest brother Diran, only six months old, a baby at the time, was taken in by a Kurdish family and they thought he had been lost. Brother Karnig disappeared on the journey to Mardin.

In time, Zorah, Queeny, Rose and Nish found each other and returned to Dickranagert. Their family home had been taken over by Turkish families. Zorah married and moved to Syria. Queeny, Rose and Nishan eventually managed, with the support of uncles in California, to make their way to the United States. Their trip was long, and grueling, and they spent 9 months in quarantine in Marseilles before they were able to get on a ship to the U.S. They ended up in Providence, Rhode Island, where they located a relative and, traveled by train to California. Three young children under the age of 18, speaking no English, ended up in Del Rey, California. They met up with their maternal aunts, cousins and began what would be a long, prosperous life for each of them.

Years later, oldest sister Zorah and her husband were able to locate Diran who was lost during the events of 1915. They never found Karnig. Diran eventually followed his oldest sister to Aleppo, Syria, where he married and had three daughters. In the late 1950's, Queeny, her husband John, and sister Rose returned to the middle east where they re-united with their sister Zorah, brother Diran, and they met his family, including daughters Seta (Sandy), Sosi (Susan), and Arpie (Debbie). A few short years later, Diran and his family moved to the United States, reunited with his brother Nishan, and met a family that had waited more than 55 years to meet the "lost" brother. Unfortunately, Diran died of lung cancer not long after he moved to the United States.

Despite their tragic childhood, the Amirian family grew and prospered, along with a large extended family that all saw its roots in Dickranagert. In the 1990's Nishan, Rose and Queeny passed away. But, their legacy and love of family lives on. Susan, Debbie, Brian and Adrienne will be returning to their ancestral home to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to insure that the Armenian culture and history survives. Joining them are Susan's husband, Harold, whose family is from the Cappadocia area of Turkey, and close friend Lisa, whose family is from Kharpert.

See pictures of the Amirian Family.

The Trip!

We are grateful to our dear friend Shake Derderian of Sima Tours who has worked to create a fantastic journey to historic Armenia. We will fly to Istanbul and stay for four days, then travel for fourteen days through Turkey. Among our stops:
  • Izmir and Kusadasi - with a visit to historic Ephesus
  • Cappadocia -- the cradle of civilization and early Christianity
  • Aintap, Sanliurfa, Dickranagert, Mardin
  • Lake Van, including the beautiful island where Akhtamar Church is located
  • Kars, the great city of Ani (City of a Thousand Churches, now in ruins), Mush
  • A close-up view of Mt. Ararat and the Turkey/Armenia Border
  • Kharpert, Erzerum
We return to Istanbul, where we will enjoy a tour of the Armenian sites of Istanbul, a visit to the Patriarchate of the Armenian Church of Turkey, and lunch and a visit to the Asian side of Istanbul. We complete our trip with a few more days in Istanbul, and then it's off to home we go.

Brian and I will stop for two nights and one day in Paris, where we will stay in Versailles at the Trianon Palace and Spa, located at the back yard to Versailles Palace. The rest of the gang heads home a day before we leave and will be home to great us on our return!

So, enjoy the journey with us and I'll try to get back here from time to time with stories, pictures, and the latest "fun".

1 comment:

  1. Just reading this took me back to my very first trip to Turkey... what a trip that was :). I wish I could go back and relive it.

    Sarah | Izmir Shore Excursions