Chapter XXI

May 17th, The Day Of Victory And The Dawn Of Freedom


There was an air of dizzy revolt everywhere: we were masters of the old city. The golden rays of the morning sun gilded the summits of Ardos, Sipan. Kirkoor and Yarak mountains, heralding the glorious victory to all Vasbouragon. A pall of smoke still covered Aikesdan.

Bishop Daniel and H. Gossoyan, accompanied by a group of aimed men, started up to probe the castle rode. There were no Turks to be seen anywhere, only heaps of empty shells. For thirty days fresh air and sunshine had been denied us; now we avidly enjoyed both.

“Look, your Holiness,” said Gossoyan, “see the remnants of the Turks hastening away. Our sufferings have come to an end.”

“I am benumbed,” retorted the bishop, “I can neither feel nor think for the moment. Let us stop one moment to catch our breath.” From that elevation, we could see large numbers of people, on foot and mounted, in the southern plains, fleeing Aikesdan. On the lake were five sailing westerly to Tadvan.

The feelings that permeate the human soul in situations like this can only be felt but not described...

We announced our victory by one salvo of rifle fire. The castle rock, the symbol, since time immemorial, of the durability of our people, at long last was in our hands again.

Notes of distant song attracted our attention. The Bishop and Gossoyan departed leaving behind the armed men.

The crowd was approaching from the direction of Haigavank. They sang, they danced and ran towards us with cries of joy. “Hello, Shirin, hello, Panos, Kevork. Melkesset,” etc. The next moment we were locked in brotherly embrace. None of the heros could hold back his tears, no words were uttered. After a few moments of this indescribable solemnity, we collected ourselves and up went cries of “Hurrah! Long live Aikesdan!”

“Hurrah for the valiant defenders of the city!” came the echo.

As we entered the city, we found the entire population gathered to greet us at the gate. We arrived at the Prelacy compound and sat on benches in the flower filled yard. Then Panos Terlemezian (a famous painter) addressed those present as follows:

“We salute the valiant people of the old city; glory to all combatants who fearlessly stood up to the enemy and vanquished him. We are bringing to you the admiration and the embraces of your brothers in arm. Our victories, both here and in Aikesdan were magnificent, forcing the foe to flee in ignominy. We understand that the Russian army, preceded by Armenian volunteers, has captured Pergery. When will they arrive here? We cannot say. They may be delayed and we must not simply wait for them to come. Grave responsibilities lie ahead. More than ever before we must not lay down our arms, but be ready for any eventuality. The crushed enemy is not very far: it is possible that it may decide to return.”

During the celebrations that followed, it was decided to send another group to the top of the rock in honor of the visitors. They travelled across the Turkish quarters where they met several dozen men, women and children. These were escorted to the Defense Command headquarters. Climbing up the western slope, every building was examined. Large quantities of shells, lead, gunpowder and three cannons were found with only a few usable rifles.

The forlorn Turkish flag was replaced with our flag of liberation, the flag of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s city chapter.