Where the homeland starts from…

Where does the homeland start from? For each of us, there is a source. One person says it’s the home and birthplace, another says it’s the foreign country in which he lives and the land of his ancestors for which he longs.

The answer is perhaps definite in one case. For the soldier serving at a bordering military unit of the Armenian army, every morning is the homeland. The 730 days start from the border that he is defending.

Saro Mamoyan, Sahak Mezhlumyan, Artur Kalashyan, Smbat Bozinyan, Karapet Martirosyan and Vache Sherents…These are the Armenian soldiers of the Armenian army. They serve at N military unit in Ararat, and they all share one thing in common. Living abroad, they have decided to serve in the Armenian army.

Why? Each of them has his reasons, his story that we’ll learn together.

Saro Mamoyan

“I was born in Armenia, but have been living in Russia for ten years. I’m back to Armenia to serve, and I’ve been serving for the past 19 months. My brother and I serve at the same military unit.

Why am I here? I don’t know. I simply felt that I had to serve. My father also served in the army, why should I have avoided it?

Before coming here, I didn’t have an idea of the army, even the type of clothes they give us to wear. I came, and my life turned around. I learned what a man has to do, what it means to defend the border and what it means to serve in the army. If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t know the difficult path that a soldier takes. But in the end, he comes to a point and realizes that that was what he had come for and that he needs that.

It was a little hard at first since everything was unusual, but slowly I got used to this life. When you go to the military positions, you feel proud to defend the border. You’re standing on a line that separates you from the enemy, and at that moment, you have been entrusted to maintain that “line”.

I was a little afraid when I first climbed to the top of the military positions. I didn’t know what it was going to be like. Facing a Turk (Azerbaijani), I was waiting for something to happen. I was afraid and was trying to be in focus. It was very hard, but later I realized that it depends on us soldiers. If we pay attention at the military positions, we won’t notice the difficulties. If we can notice the opponent on time, he can’t do anything.

It’s especially hard at night when you’re all alone and there’s no sound at all. But when you look back, you realize that your compatriots are behind you, it’s the border and that you are defending them. As you stand at the line facing the opponent, you feel very proud.

I want every boy to realize that he’s going to feel all that when he goes to the army. I can share a lot of stories about on-duty combat, but the most important thing for every soldier is to know that serving is his duty. If he does it with honor, he will end it with honor as well.

It’s a little hard now, but he’ll have something to talk about throughout his lifetime. When he ever passes by these areas, he’ll remember and say that there was a time when he was defending the border and that now there are others defending that border so that we can live in peace.

Before going to the army I thought life in the army would be very hard and that I can’t serve. However, I came and realized that I can.

I want every boy to realize that he has to serve. Serving in the army is mandatory for every man.

The only difficult thing is the feeling of longing. I miss my family and friends the most…

Sahak Mezhlumyan

I was born in Shamshadin, or the city of Berd. For the past 18 years, I have been living in Russia where I graduated from the middle school in Moscow and was a member of a sport club.

I’ve been serving in the army for the past 14 months. True, I live in Russia, but this is my land and water. My relatives are here, and I have to defend all this.

Defending the border makes me feel proud. I think to myself-while I’m on the border, my parents, friends and relatives can sleep at ease. They can take pride in me. My relatives in Armenia are especially very happy that I moved from Russia and am serving in the Armenian Army.

Time flies here. I have a lot of friends, even from Moscow whom I met here.

I’ve changed a lot over the past months. My mindset has changed. I treat everything seriously and start contemplating a step before taking it.

I just miss my parents, friends and relatives.

I would like for everyone to come and serve in the army, without thinking that it’s a bad thing. I just want God to be with all of us and to have everyone serve well and return to their families.

Artur Kalashyan

I was born oin Gyumri. When I was 5, my family and I moved to Russia where I graduated from the local middle school. I’m a wrestling master.

I wanted to come here. My brother has also served in the army, but in Karabakh. I’ve been here for the past 19 months.

We have a good time here. The military unit has a new gym where we can train.

I had only been serving in the army for six months when we first climbed to the military positions for the first time. At the military positions is where you feel that the homeland needs you, and the thought that the people at home can live peacefully since you are at the military positions gives you strength.

Before going to the army, it was as if we were children. Now, we have become men.

The most difficult thing is waiting and when you think of your parents and everyone waiting for you. It becomes more difficult in the last months.

Armenians must serve in the Armenian Army, regardless of where they live.

When I return, I want to study and become a coach.

Smbat Bozinyan

My mother is Russian, and my father is Armenian. I was born in Russia, but when I was little, my family and I moved to Greece where I’ve lived for almost 18 years. After graduating from schools, I told my parents that I wanted to go and serve in the Armenian army. My grandfather has served in the Armenian Army, and my uncle participated in the battle for Karabakh.

Before coming to Armenia, I didn’t know Armenian at all and had some difficulties, but now, after a year of military service, I’ve started speaking the language. I had wanted to learn Armenian since childhood, but it’s hard when you live in a foreign country. Now I’m proud that I learned how to speak in Armenian. I’m trying to be a good soldier. I’m Armenian, and this is my country too, right?

I visited Armenia once or twice when I was a kid, but I don’t remember much. Life in Greece is different than life in Armenia. There are many difficulties in Armenia. People do everything they can to make ends meet. However, in spite of everything, I love this lifestyle. It’s a totally different world. It’s very simple and interesting.

It’s safe to say that I’ve become a totally different person over the past months. In Greece I had everything that I wanted, but here I realized that the simplest, the smallest and the most typical thing can make someone happy. It’s the laugh or the scream of a child playing with matches outside. You see how the child gets happy. It’s different in Greece. State-of-the-art phones and computers make people happy. Life is very simple and free here.

I want to stay here, but it will all be clear in the future.

I serve at the military positions with 7-8 other soldiers. We help each other out so that we won’t make mistakes because even a small mistake can cost you your life.

I miss my mother the most. I try to speak in Armenian when I talk to my father on the phone. I tell him that everything is fine.

Serving in the army changes you a lot. You grow up and become a different person. You think about your future when you have your job, family and kids.

I’d like to get married to an Armenian, but I don’t know how it will work out.

Karapet Martirosyan

I was born in Gyumri, but have been living in Russia since I was three years old. I came to Armenia to serve in the army and to, as they say, fulfill my duty to the homeland. Besides that, my father, uncles and grandfather have also served in the army.

I’ve been serving in the army for 12 days. I didn’t know anything about the army before this. I was told it’s difficult. True, it was difficult in the beginning because I had found myself in an environment in which I didn’t know anyone. But when I adapted, the days went by quickly.

I felt proud when I wore camouflage for the first time.

We’ve already learned the text and articles of the oath. Since I don’t know Armenian, I wrote the words of the text in Russian. I’d like to learn Armenian, but I think it will be difficult.

The oath ceremony will be held soon. I’ve learned the walk. It was difficult at first. My feet hurt, but not anymore.

When I end my military service, I’ll go back to Russia to study. I want to become an economist. My parents are brother live in Russia. I miss them, and it would be hard to live far away from them.

The people who say it’s difficult to serve in the army are wrong. A man has to face difficulties. Besides that, you have to do something for your homeland, right? Only in Armenia can you do something for the homeland.

-Vache Sherents

I was born in Dilijan. When I was 2, my family and I moved to Russia. After graduating from school, I got accepted to the local institute. Now, I’ve come to serve in the army. It’s very important for me to serve in the Armenian Army. My ancestors are from Van, which is currently in the territory of Turkey. It would be wrong for me to serve in the army of a foreign country and not defend my land. I’ve been serving for the past 18 months.

In the army you get used to being lonely and become a man. It’s hard at first, but you adapt. My brother has also served in the army. He has told me a lot about military service and has given me advice.

When you’re at the military positions, you get a little scared, but they assure you that everything is going to be alright.

This is my country, and it doesn’t matter if I’m in Dilijan, in Ararat, on the border or at the military unit.

I have two badges. The badge on the right side is for good on-duty combat. The badge on the left side is for being a good athlete during the meetings in Vanadzor where the intelligence experts had gathered. I’ve boxed for five years.

After service, I’ll continue my studies. I’ll start studying in Armenia. I don’t know whether I’ll stay or leave. It all depends on the future.

You learn something new almost every day in the army. For instance, I’ve learned how to speak fluently in Armenian and know Armenian history and the weapons. Recently I started practicing sambo at the gym of the military unit.

I wish that all soldiers serve well and return to their homes safely…

P.S.: These are boys who feel closer to the homeland every day and aren’t afraid of confessing that they’re afraid when they defend the border during on-duty service.

It’s a fear that doesn’t mean weakness, but that they realize what they can lose and the value of “what they’re defending”. The 18-20-year old boys realize that every day…

Thank you, Armenian soldiers!

Lusine Abrahamyan

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