Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award winning writer William Saroyan wrote in his short story “The Armenian and the Armenian” –
“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.”
Those immortal words closed the recently-released film “The Promise,” which centers around the Armenian genocide in 1915. They also adorn the left arm of Real Salt Lake and Armenian National Team forward Yura Movsisyan.
Last week, as the film premiered across the U.S., Movsisyan hosted RSL at a private screening. Afterword, he spoke about the film’s historical importance, his reaction and the words that he had tattooed on his arm nearly a year ago. The club’s official website presents an interview with Yura Movsisyan.
“That quote defines and explains everything about the Armenians. We’re a fighting nation. We’re a nation that survived a genocide. Our victory will be to survive. For me, that has the best meaning in the world to have that quote engraved in my body. It means everything. It defines us and defines me as a person and who I am. And it defines our nation and our race. That’s the theme of the movie and it’s who we are.”
“With the worldwide release of The Promise, it’s finally a big movie about the reality of the genocide that happened 102 years ago. Everybody has heard and read some stuff, but this is an opportunity for everybody to actually see the reality. It’s definitely special because us Armenians have always fought to get it recognized. It’s every Armenian’s duty to let it be known. To have a picture with so many great actors and an Oscar-winning director film the movie … it can’t get bigger than this worldwide. It’s about time people started understanding and learning about it. These are the things we are seeing today – genocides.”
“When you are a kid and you are being raised, you are told the stories. You are a survivor of a genocide. Our duty is to make other people aware of what our history is. It’s not just a small little country in Eastern Europe. It’s a country that has seen a genocide. You win by surviving and staying alive and telling others. It’s great to see a lot of my friends and teammates come out and learn something new. So it’s definitely special for me. Once people learn about it, they will be more educated about Armenians. And it isn’t just about the Armenian genocide. It’s learning about history and letting people know that these things are happening today. It can help the world out.”
“It’s tough. You might know the story and the history, but every time you get reminded of it, it gets tougher and tougher – and heavier. I think they did a fabulous job. They put everything out there – the emotions and the reality. But we still had that spirit to fight to survive and fight to help each other and save whoever we can. That’s a big part of this movie and a big part of defining who we are.”
“It’s been 102 years that half of the world hasn’t recognized the genocide. We’re still fighting for it. We didn’t just move on – we’re always going to fight. I always had to fight to reach the level that I’ve reached in life. I didn’t have much, but I became a pro in a country of 300 million people. I didn’t have any other goals but to be a professional. That’s the fighting spirit that we have. Nothing’s ever been handed to us. Everything we’ve had to do has been done the hard way. That’s the way it is for us and we embrace it.”
“Any Armenian who meets a fellow Armenian, no matter where in the world, you become close. You just have that very warm, welcoming reaction. We only had ourselves to protect each other and everybody is part of that lineage. We are the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of genocide survivors or of people that were killed. It’s an automatic that we are welcoming and warm toward each other.”
The Promise is in theaters now. All proceeds from the film will be donated to various non-profit groups, with a focus on humanitarian and human rights groups.