Forget-Me-Not: A symbol of Genocide Centennial making its way into Armenians’ life

Forget-Me-Not: A symbol of Genocide Centennial making its way into Armenians’ life

Forget-me-nots, a chosen symbol of commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, in colors symbolizing the past, the present and the future, the light and the eternity, have increasingly been taking a more prominent place in the life of Armenians in Armenia and around the world in recent days and weeks.

The massacres of Armenians that began in the Ottoman Empire still in the 19th century peaked in 1915 turning into a state genocidal campaign, with 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered in the subsequent few years. In 2015, Armenians in different parts of the world as well as in Armenia itself will be holding many events to commemorate the victims of the Genocide on its 100th anniversary.

Under a decision of the State Committee coordinating these events, the forget-me-not flower has been selected as the official symbol of the commemorations, while “I Remember and Demand” was chosen as the motto for the anniversary, because the flower represents the graphic image of 12 stone slabs of the memorial to the Armenian Genocide victims at Tsitsernakaberd (Swallow Fortress).

The five petals of the flower symbolize five parts of the world where Armenians were scattered after the Genocide and created the Armenian Diaspora.

The flower has four colors – black in the center, symbolizing the Armenian past, then it is surrounded by yellow which pictures the light and the eternity in the form of 12 pillars standing in a circle symbolizing the memorial of Tsitsernakaberd. Light purple is the present and the prevailing purple – the future.

The small flower that contains much notion in it has already managed to become widely popular among Armenians. Reporters of many TV stations appear on screens with a Forget-Me-Not badge.

The idea of the forget-me-not seems to have appealed to the ruling party as well, as both President Serzh Sargsyan and other senior Republican Party members appear in public wearing Forget-Me-Not badges.

Schools will not stay apart from the “Forget-me-nots”; among other events devoted to the Centennial of the Genocide the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science will organize an event in all public educational institutions on March 24, when all schoolchildren of 5-12 grades will prepare the symbol of forget-me-nots – 1.5 million pieces, which later, on April 24, will be handed to visitors of Tsitsernakaberd.

And although the official website of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide says that already in April Forget-Me-Not badges will be provided for free, it did not avoid “business interests”, and those willing to purchase forget-me-nots earlier are offered a bunch of Forget-me-nots – not only badges, but also earrings, key-holders, etc.

According to some media reports, a local businessman has produced fake badges, selling them in his stores for 200 AMD (about 40 cent) a piece.

However, as a symbol the forget-me-not has not unanimously been accepted and has been criticized by some as well.

According to filmmaker Tigran Khzmlyan, who is also a former member of the Pre-parliament civil initiative, the forget-me-not is not a proper symbol for the Genocide Centennial, because according to him, Armenians have long had their symbolic flower.

“The forget-me-not is understandable in an abstract sense, however, it is not now that we are searching for cultural symbols for us, and in our poetry and folklore, in our image system a completely different flower symbolizes the Armenian pain, it is the poppy. In the image of the previous generation a poppy symbolized the blood of the diseased, meaning the beauty of the poor nature of our mountains, it is red, but has black in its heart,” Khzmlyan said.

As for the slogan of the flower – “I Remember and Demand”, according to the film director, it might create a misunderstanding in Turkey.

“If we take a forget-me-not, as a symbol of memory, we appear in a quite ambiguous situation. The thing is we have nothing to remember, we are not looking at it from aside and thus we seem to appear in the Turkish trap. Besides, there is also another unpleasant peculiarity – the forget-me-not, as it turns out, has numerously been used, it is a banal and discredited symbol, which we see in many political parties, religious units and most ridiculously, it is the logo of many trading companies,” Khzmlyan said.

Nevertheless, the symbolic “Forget-me-not” will at least this year be in the center of Armenian attention, and Europe’s biggest pop music contest, Eurovision, will be no exception.

Armenia has decided to unite around Eurovision 2015 the new generation of all Armenians who were scattered around the five continents (Europe, America, Asia, Africa, and Australia) in 1915 and five singers of Armenian origin are associated with five petals of the flower. They will be joined by one singer from Armenia who will unite the petals. The group that will be formed for the contest will be called The Genealogy – 6 artists, 6 destinies, one story, and the title of the song is – “Don’t Deny”.