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This week’s sentence to finish: “If I could have dinner with anyone in history it would be with…”
Upon reading that, what immediately came to mind for me was that old question about if you could go back in time and kill Hitler before the Holocaust, would/should you do it? Being Armenian, however, that question goes back even further. In bolstering his decision to exterminate the Jews, Hitler was famously quoted as saying " Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians." Given the lack of response in Turkey, he assumed he would be equally successful in his plan. So, I would have to go back to Talaat Pasha, the Turkish Minister of Interior Affairs who ordered the extermination of all Armenians in Turkey in 1915. Hitler was a nice guy in comparison to Talaat Pasha and his cohorts, Enver Pasha and Jemal Pasha (No, they weren't brothers – Pasha is really a title, not a last name.)
Most of my family got off easy (comparatively speaking), but I do know others whose parents and grandparents witnessed such atrocities as having their family members buried in the sand up to the neck and having to watch while they were decapitated, or watching pregnant women have their babies cut out of them, etc. I often wonder about my maternal grandfather's baby sister. Before leaving on the marches, my great grandmother left her baby with a local priest in hopes of saving her life. Whatever became of her? Did she live or die, stay in Turkey, grow up even knowing she was Armenian? For all we know, she could have ended up here and been our next-door neighbor. What could have been going through my grandfather's young mind at the time seeing the priest with his baby sister on their way out of town? Was he angry then and thankful later, after gaining and understanding of what was going on?
So, although I wouldn't be particularly enthused at the thought of sitting down to a meal with Talaat Pasha, the question of whether someone could influence the course of history in such a way is very interesting. Then I'm left with the paradox of knowing that if I was able change his mind about his Armenian neighbors, thus averting the Armenian Genocide, and possibly the Holocaust, I would never had been born. Arguably, a small price to pay, but still a weird thought.
I don't pretend to have any knowledge of these families or their history to know when they left Armenia – before or after 1915, etc., but just for argument sake, let's imagine that if their families had remained in Armenia and the genocide never took place, these people would also never have been born …
- The Kardashians – where would the gossip pages be without them?!
- Cher – which would also mean Chaz
- Luther George Simjian – Brainchild of the ATM and many other inventions
- Dr. Jack Kevorkian – I personally believe in voluntary euthanasia, although I understand it's still a controversial topic
- William Saroyan – noted author and and co-writer of Rosemary Clooney's hit song Come On-a My House with his cousin, Ross Bagdasarian
- Ross Bagdasarian – Creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks
- Steve Jobs – He wasn't Armenian himself, but his adoptive mother was. How might his legacy have differed without her influence?
- Raymond Vahan Damadian – Inventor of the MRI
- Dr. Varzaztad H. Kazanjian – The "Miracle Man of the Western Front," considered to be the founder of the modern practice of plastic surgery.
- Stephan Stepanian – Invented the truck-mounted revolving concrete drum mixer that revolutionized the concrete industry.
- Peter Balakian - Author
- Steven Zaillian – Screenwriter, Schindler's List, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.
- Principal Seymour Skinner (born Armin Tamzarian) – Cartoon character on the Simpsons played by Harry Shearer (wonder where his family originated??)
- Ara Parseghian – Former Notre Dame football coach and CBS sports analyst
- Kirk Kerkorian – President/CEO of Tracina Corp., known as an important figure in shaping Las Vegas
- Dr. Albert Kapikian – Virologist who developed with first licensed vaccine against rotovirus – Deputy Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
- Rouben Mamoulian – Film/theatre director and first to use a mobile camera, Technicolor and a multiple-channel soundtrack
- Jackie Cooper – Actor who credited his start in the business to his uncle, Rouben Mamoulian
- Alex Manoogian – Creator of the Delta single-handle faucet. Donated his home in Detroit to the City, which now serves as the Mayoral Mansion.
- Avedis Zildjian - Zildjian cymbals - one of the oldest companies in the world (400 yrs+)
- Eric Bogosian – Actor/playwright. Best known by his role as Capt. Danny Ross on Law & Order CSI
- Garry Kasparov – Noted Chess Champion
- Mike Connors a/k/a Mannix
- Princess Diana – 1/64th Armenian J
- Atom Egoyan – Director
- Charles Aznavour – "France's Frank Sinatra" Singer/songwriter/actor – Named by Bob Dylan as among the greatest liver performers he's ever seen. One of the rare European singers invited to duet with Sinatra. Partnered with Luciano Pavarotti among others.
- Andre Agassi – Tennis star and philanthropist
- Arshile Gorky – Artist known mostly for his series of paintings - The Artist and His Mother (Whitney Museum of American Art – NY City)
- Robert Altounyan – Physician/pharmacologist who pioneered the use of sodium cromoglycase as a remedy for asthma – the first clinically utilized mast cell stabilizer
- Dr. Michael M. Ter-Pogossian – Lead the group that created the PET Scanner
- Hampar Kelikian – Pioneering orthopedic surgeon in the field of restoration of useless limbs – saved Bob Dole from having his right arm amputated.
- Dr. Ara Darzi – One of the world's leading surgeons specializing in the field of minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgery. Has pioneered many new techniques and technologies in the field.
- Haig Kafafian – Inventor in the field of cybernetics; developed some of the first communications devices for the physically impaired.
- Ardashes Aykanian – Inventor of the bendy straw and the spoon straw. Also said to have participated in the creation of the original form of Tupperware.
- Semyon Davidovich Kirlian – Inventor of Kirlian photography
- Harry Tatosian – Founder of Old London Foods, best known for its Melba Toast. Inventor of the first commercial machines to produce Melba Toast.
- Asadoor Sarafian – Inventor who developed the first patented four-speed semi-automatic transmission.
- Zaven Melik-Tangiev – Tech Engineer; first to design and construct a settlement-plant of oil production in open sea. Had ship named after him by the Caspian Navy.
- Ed Iskenderian – Legend in the racing world. Created the first Hard-Face Overlay camshafts and was first to employ computers in camshaft design. Isky the "Camfather" was the first corporate sponsor in racing.
- Arthur H. Bulbulian – Pioneer in the field of facial prosthetics. Created the A-14 oxygen mask for the U.S. Air Force, which was frost proof and included a microphone for radio communication. Later part of team that created the BLB (Boothby, Lovelace and Bulbulian) nasal and orinasal oxygen mask. First director of the Mayo Medical Museum.
- Ardem Mikoyan – Namesake of the MiG fighter aircraft (Mikoyan-Gurevich design)
- Giacomo Luigi Ciamician – Italian photchemist, 9-time Nobel prize nominee; father of the solor panel.
- Edward Keonjian – Prominent engineer and father of microelectronics who designed the world's first solar-powered pocket-sized radio transmitter. Collaborated with Neil Armstrong as chief of failure analysis on Apollo 11 project.
- Avadis Tevanian – Former Senior VP of Software for Apple; led team responsible for creation of Mac OS X. Was the principal designer and engineer of the Mach operating system.
- Alexander Kemurdzhian – Designed the first rovers to explore space.
- Christopher der Seropian – Invented the black and green inks that first appeared on U.S. Currency.
- Hovannes Adamian – One of the founders of color television.
- Dr. Paris Herouni – Creator of the Herouni Mirror Radio telescope
- Peter Paul Halajian – Created one of my favorite candy bars, the Almond Joy.
I could go on, but you get the point. Maybe we could do without the Kardashians, but I have a hard time imagine a world nowadays without ATM machines, color TV, MRIs, the PET scan, etc. Oh, it was also an Armenian who first introduced yogurt to this country. Remember the Columbo brand (bought by GM in 93)? That was the Colombosian family from Andover, MA, who first commercially produced and sold yogurt in the US back in 1929. Sure, yogurt would have eventually made its way here, but still …
Have you ever seen so many "IANs" in one place before?!?!
So, what should I serve Talaat Pasha for dinner? Maybe I'll stick with sandwiches and Gazpacho. After all, revenge is a dish best served cold. ;)
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