Top 5 Famous Armenians

Top 5 Famous Armenians

As Armenia celebrates 24 years of independence, take a look at notable Armenians in the diaspora.

On September 21, 11 million Armenians around the world celebrated Armenian independence day. Situated in the Caucasus region, flanked by Turkey to the west and Azerbaijan to the east, Armenia is a tiny nation with a lengthy history dating back to biblical times — according to the Book of Genesis, Noah’s Ark finally rested on Mount Ararat, the national symbol of Armenia currently located in Turkey. After 600 years of nearly continuous foreign occupation, beginning with the Ottomans in the early 16th century, the Republic of Armenia was finally established in 1991, upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

One of the unique anomalies about the country is the fact that it is home to only a third of the world’s Armenians. That leaves 8 million scattered around the globe, many of whom were forced to leave the region as a result of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Like countless other diaspora communities, Armenians have left their mark in their adoptive homes. In honor of 24 years of independence, I’ve compiled a list of famous Armenians you might not have known were Armenian.

1. Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)

Born near Tiflis, Georgia, Aram Khachaturian became one of the most popular and successful composers to emerge from the Soviet Union. A contemporary of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, he was influenced by traditional Armenian folk music, incorporating oriental elements into his pieces. He is best known for his scores to the ballets Gayaneh and Spartacus, the former which features the famous “Sabre Dance.”

2. Raymond Damadian (1936-present)

The next time you have to undergo an MRI scan (which hopefully is not anytime soon!), you have Armenian-American physician Raymond Damadian to thank. He first performed the procedure in 1977, in order to diagnose cancer in a human being. Damadian was the recipient of the Lemelson-MIT Prize’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, as “the man who invented the MRI scanner.” He was also recognized by the Franklin Institute here in Philadelphia, where he received the Bower Award in Business Leadership.

3. System of a Down

All four of this Grammy Awarding-winning rock band’s members - Serj Tankian, Daron Malakian, Shavo Odadjian, John Dolmayan - are descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors. Three of System’s five studio albums have debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and they have been nominated for four Grammy Awards, winning “Best Hard Rock Performance” in 2006 for their song “BYOB.” Earlier this year, System embarked on their “Wake Up the Souls” tour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and raise awareness about ongoing genocides worldwide.

4. Charles Aznavour (1924-present)

The French-Armenian singer, affectionately known as France’s very own Frank Sinatra, has written over 1200 songs, sung in eight languages, and sold over 180 million records. He was named “Entertainer of the Century” in 1998 by CNN and readers of Time Online, a title he won against the likes of Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. At 91, he is still going strong, involving himself in French, Armenian, and international politics. He was named French ambassador-at-large to Armenia, and, in 2009, Aznavour agreed to hold the office of Ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland.

5. Andre Agassi (1970-present)

“The Punisher.” Eight-time Grand Slam champion. 1996 Olympic gold medalist. All of these describe retired professional tennis player Andre Agassi, the man the BBC identified as “perhaps the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history.” Agassi, who is of Armenian heritage on his father’s side, was one of the most dominant players on the court from the early-1990’s to the mid-2000’s. Nowadays, he focuses his energy on providing educational opportunities and activities to at-risk children in southern Nevada through the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, founded in 1994.

*6. Kardashian Family (Special Mention)

America’s “royal family.” I don’t think this one needs any explanation. As much as it pains me to associate the Kardashians with the likes of Khachaturian and Damadian, this family has been instrumental in raising awareness about Armenia and Armenian issues among the American public. From Kim and Khloe’s trip to Armenia in April — which premiered this week on E! — to their tweets every April commemorating the Armenian Genocide, the Kardashians have managed, if nothing else, to educate their fans (and critics) about a country which does not get enough media coverage.

Cover Image Credit: City.1-Themes

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To the guy that shot my brother...


To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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