Paul Saryian: In Memory of My Grandmother an Armenian Genocide Survivor

By Paul Saryian

My name is Paul Saryian. I am a former NYPD police captain who served this great city for 24 years with pride, honor and integrity. I am also a candidate for New York State Assembly, 61st district.

Paul Saryian of West Brighton, Staten Island

On April 19th, millions of Jews around the world commemorate the Holocaust. Likewise, on April 24th, Armenians around the world commemorate the Armenian Genocide. People of Armenian and Jewish descent share in the grief and tragic history of pasts crimes that must never be seen again.

Because “genocide anywhere is genocide everywhere” – there can be no closure in this dark chapter of history. However, there are some who prefer to forget the past – but let’s not forget that “what’s past is prologue.”

My paternal grandparents were genocide survivors.

In 1910, my grandmother, Akabe  Kehyaian, was born in Kayseri, Turkey.

My grandmother’s account of survival from 1915 to 1920 is nothing short of a miracle.

My great-grandfather, Bhogos Kehyaian, who had traveled to the United States in 1913, lost all contact with his family after the commencement of World War 1.

In 1915, when the Ottoman Empire began its systematic purge and slaughter of Armenians, my grandmother found herself separated from her family – surviving as a homeless  child on the  streets of Turkey. My great-grandmother had died of dysentery, and my grandmother’s aunt and uncle were taken into custody by police – never to be seen again.

While homeless, my grandmother, along with many other orphaned children, survived on scraps of discarded food and the carcasses of dead animals that lay rotting along roadsides.

At some unknown time and place, my grandmother was rescued from the gutter by the Red Cross. She was eventually placed in an orphanage and lived for a few years in several foster homes.

There are many details that I am skipping over for the sake of brevity, but around 1919-20, my grandmother was informed that her father was alive and residing in the United States.

She eventually made that fateful voyage to the New Land and, miraculously, reunited with her father on Ellis Island.

Yes, of course, there is much more to say – but we are a part of Akabe Kehyaian.

My grandmother’s childhood is a story of survival – but for 1.5 million others, all we can do is pray for their souls, seek justice and try to secure a better future for all humanity.

Justice and making a difference is all that ever mattered to me.

It’s the main reason why I became a police officer. It is also the reason why I am proud to announce that I am a candidate for New York State Assembly.

As a police captain, I served the people of New York City with pride, honor and integrity. I will do the same when I am elected to State Assembly. But most importantly, I will be the right person to ensure our human and religious rights are protected.

If you would like to see a short interview I conducted in 1996 with my grandmother, 4 years before she passed away, please go to youtube – “Akabe Kehyaian Saryian” – or follow this direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seToZA0qgF4

4. PRESIDENTIAL MESSAGE: Armenian Remembrance Day – April 24

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3 thoughts on “Paul Saryian: In Memory of My Grandmother an Armenian Genocide Survivor

  1. A beautiful but sad message. It is hateful that the Turkish government does not acknowledge the crime of its predecessor government and thus contributes toward a total genocide.

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