By Rachel Melikian
An orphaned unknown teenage girl, the greatest, bravest woman in history, miraculously arrived alone in the United States 101 years ago, after three and a half years of wandering on foot from her hometown in Western Armenia. She had escaped slavery and a harem after her entire village had been massacred by running from her captors and jumping into the Euphrates River. She then walked alone to Russia and then traveled to the US. She came to the US in 1918 to tell her story and be a testament to her orphaned nation. Her name was Aurora Mardiganian, the heroine and the voice of the Armenian Genocide, who wrote a book and dedicated it to US President Woodrow Wilson (because Wilson was the torchbearer of the Armenian cause).
When Aurora arrived in the United States, she raised awareness of the Armenian Genocide to people around the world. It was Aurora’s courage, angelic quality, her strong faith and her love for her fellow man that made Americans take notice.
Aurora was modest and humble. At fundraising events, she refrained from talking even though Aurora was asked to do so. She was quiet because she was focused on praying silently rather than drawing attention to herself. At fundraising meals, Aurora was silently praying with every single bite for the little orphans of the Armenian Genocide to be fed as well.
Aurora’s gentle quietness allowed her to know God’s plan and to believe God’s power over man and world politics. God heard her silent prayers and made Aurora the patron of the Armenian orphans throughout the world.
With God’s help, Aurora was able to inspire the American people to raise funds for the little helpless Armenian orphans of the Armenian Genocide.
Because of her survival story, the money that NER (Near East Relief Foundation, originally known as American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief) raised helped the lives of 1.5 million Armenian survivors, including 130,000 orphans. NER raised the equivalent of 2.5-3.0 billion dollars to relieve the suffering of Armenians
Aurora was introduced to the American public in 1919, when her book “Ravished Armenia” was published, and a silent Hollywood movie, “Ravished Armenia” aka “Auction of Souls” (in which she played the starring role) was made about her life. Yet one hundred years after the release of the movie, Aurora stays unknown to the world. Although the League of Nations Union arranged the preview of her movie in London, Aurora’s book was censored across the world in the early 1920s and her movie has been tragically lost.
Aurora lived a quiet life and never told anybody of who she was or what she did. She was an American Armenian writer, Hollywood actress, and a miraculous survivor of the Armenian Genocide, who marshaled the American people. With her angelic prayers, Aurora nurtured her nation back to life. To this day Aurora Mardiganian has received no acknowledgment for her contribution to world history. Over one million Armenians benefited from and owe their survival to Aurora’s divine presence. Yet the world does not know about her. A teenage girl of 14 was and still is the silent guardian angel of the Armenian people.
Let light shine on Aurora Mardiganian’s soul!
Rachel Melikian is the former GCC Woman of the Year