For the people of Armenia, it was a time of the deepest grief, when the external signs of death and destruction seemed inescapable.
For Armenians throughout the world, it was a time for decisive action, which drew us away from our parochial divisions, and sharply focused our united hearts and minds on the cause of our afflicted homeland.
By any measure, the earthquake of December 7, 1988 was a turning point in the history of the Armenian people. And as with all such moments, our experience of the earthquake and its aftermath changed us. Armenia itself was reborn as an independent republic. The bond between homeland and diaspora was strengthened. Travel to Armenia—once fraught with difficulty—became common and fluid.
A new generation of Armenians was decisively shaped by both the tragedy of a catastrophe, and the blessing of so many helping hands reaching out in a time of need.
December 7, 2019, marks 31 years since that dark day. Even after all this time, the purposes of almighty God remain deeply mysterious. But there can be no doubt that the Armenian people have been instruments of His will, in times of great affliction as well as of great achievement.
On this solemn occasion, we pray that God will remember the precious souls He drew to His kingdom 29 years ago; and that He will bless the land and people who emerged from, and were changed by, that time of trial.
—Christopher H. Zakian
Above: His Holiness Vasken I, the 130th Catholicos of All Armenians, among his people in the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia.
Last year, to mark 30 years since the earthquake, the Eastern Diocese’s website featured essays on how the Armenian-American community first learned of the earthquake, and how it responded in the early aftermath. Click on the preceding links to read them.