Memorial Forest Planted in Armenia
Renowned 19th-century Armenian writer Raffi (Hagop Melik Hagopian) begins his 1880 classicKhentuh (The Fool)with the following simple, yet significant words: “While the prudent stand and ponder, the fool has already crossed the river.”
The novel, which calls for a national awakening among Armenians, is just as relevant in its message today as it was nearly a century ago when it was written. While Raffi’s fool struggled to escape the shackles of oppression and looked to form a national homeland for the Armenian people, today’s fools try to sustain and develop that very same homeland envisioned in the book.
Sosé Thomassian and Allen Yekikian were two such fools.
Born and raised in the United States, where the two were devoted members of the Armenian community, the young couple moved to Armenia in early 2013. While they had set out together to live their dream in the land of their ancestors, their lives were tragically cut short on May 10, 2013, in a fatal car accident on their way to Georgia.
Sosé and Allen’s passing sent shockwaves throughout Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora, prompting many to question how such a tragedy could occur to two such exemplary, loving people. But perhaps more importantly, their story inspired a generation to engage with Armenia, to actively try to be a part of its development and progress. Moreover, it motivated and encouraged a small, yet dedicated group of young men and women to leave their diasporan realities and to make the move to Armenia to realize their dreams.
Sosé and Allen were part of a new generation of fools who chose to cross the river and not to stand prudently idle. And today, that generation keeps Sosé and Allen’s dream alive.
On Sat., April 18, 2014, over a hundred volunteers, young and old, came together in the small Armenian village of Stepanavan to help preserve Sosé and Allen’s memory and to continue their dream of a better Armenia. Organized by the Armenia Tree Project in collaboration with Sosé and Allen’s Legacy Foundation, work began on a living, breathing memorial forest that will eventually contain some 50,000 trees.
The tree planting proved how much of an impact the couple had on people from all walks of life. From the group of young Birthright Armenia volunteers to locals from Stepanavan, Yerevan, Proshyan, and even as far away as Artsakh, Saturday’s planting of the memorial forest was evidence that Sosé and Allen’s dream is shared among all Armenians.
Sosé and Allen’s roots were deeply entrenched in Armenia, just as the trees planted in their memorial forest will be in the near future. And it is that very same forest that will help preserve their memory and inspire a new generation of fools in the years to come.