Archive for September, 2015

Happy Armenian Independence Day

September 17th, 2015    |    No Comments »

On the third Saturday in September 1991, people across Armenia left their homes to do something they had never done before: vote in a referendum. Old and young alike crowded voting stations, determined to make their voices heard. Even newly married couples, still attired in wedding garb, set aside time to cast their vote.

Earlier that year, Soviet Armenia had already decided not to participate in a referendum announced by Mikhail Gorbachev to preserve the Soviet Union, favoring instead to hold a vote on whether Armenia should secede from the USSR. Now the time had come for that crucial vote, and for the first time in seven decades, the future of Armenia rested in the hands of its citizens.

Of the country’s eligible voters, 95 percent took part in the referendum on September 21, 1991, and 99.5 percent voted for independence. Two days later, on September 23, 1991, Armenia’s parliament officially proclaimed the republic “ankakh petutyun”—an independent state.

Appropriately, it was the date of the referendum—September 21—that was reserved for future Independence Day celebrations. For on that day the decision of the Armenian people was bold and unequivocal. For the first time in generations, Armenians were at the brink of a new beginning, and together they took a courageous leap into statehood.

We salute the people who showed such faith and foresight on that day 24 years ago. We wish you—and the citizens of our free homeland—a happy Armenian Independence Day.

A newly married couple cast their ballots in Yerevan on Sept. 21, 1991.