An Armenian Immigrant's Experience in the United States
Oral History Item Type Metadata
So, some family decided it was their grandson. They were called Masadegi Sarians, and they said it was their grandson. So my father's family is called Dermaji Sarians, and his brother was living there. My father was already in America at that time. His uncle -- my uncle goes to see him, and talking and everything, he decides, "No, this can't be their grandson. Their grandson should be about twenty-eight; this boy is only eighteen." And he tells them that. And the man says -- they're very unhappy, because they were happy they found their grandson, but now my uncle is protesting.
In the meantime, my grandmother, my mother's, mother's family, wrote a letter, and my father said, "Have a blood test done and see whose blood his blood matches." And he says, "He should have bad burn marks from the waist down, because this man told me he was burned," and he said, "He fell from the roof of our house, and on the top of the head -- it's the size of a man's finger -- no hair grows. There's a scar there." So with all these things, of course they proved that it was my brother, and he went to live with my uncle then. But this -- I mean, my father couldn't believe it when we found him.
Now he wants him to come to the United States to be with us, and there's no birth certificate, no birth certificate anywhere. Everything was destroyed. So my father finally found the priest that had baptized him in Chicago, and it was Der Vartan Derderian. And he wrote him a letter and said, "I know you don't remember, but at such and such a time, you baptized my son in Antep, and I need a birth certificate or a baptismal certificate." So, the man sends it, and my father takes it to the diocese in New York, has it ratified there with the seal and everything, and they send it to Beirut. At that time, my uncle had moved from Aleppo to Beirut, so they would be closer to the American consulate. And they take the baptismal certificate, and the consul won't accept it. He says, "No, he looks older than that," and he wouldn't accept it.
And with that, my father knew the head of the church at Antilyās at that time. That was (inaudible) Sarian was the Catholicos, and he knew him from Antep; he was also a person from their hometown. He wrote him a letter, and he said, "What kind of standing does our church have in Lebanon that they refuse to accept a church-ratified paper?" So with that, Popkin Catholicos goes to the consulate and says, "Either you have to accept this as being true, or else we have to sue you for calling us liars." And this all took about three years before my brother came to this country.
He came in December of 1931, eight days short of his twenty-first birthday. He would not have been able to come in as a minor if he had come eight days later. And he had the good fortune to be picked right in the beginning of the Second World War to be drafted, and he served in the 102nd Ozark Division and fought all the way to the Battle of the Bulge in Germany, and that's where he lost his hearing. And today he's in a nursing home.