Ohan and Satenig Ohanian

Soon after World War I, young Corporal Ohan Ohanian set out for Beirut. Though he had migrated from Armenia to the United States earlier, he joined the Armenian regiment in the French Army. In Beirut, a marriage was arranged for this 21-year-old and a young 13-year-old girl, Satenig, whose mother agreed to send her daughter to the U.S. — the land of freedom and opportunity. While waiting for their papers, a year passed, and they were gifted with a baby boy — Sarkis. Ohan borrowed passage money from a friend, and with empty pockets, Ohan, Satenig, and Sarkis began their journey to the East Coast of the United States. Here, in America, they shared a tiny apartment with another couple and that couple’s baby. That situation did not work out well, so they moved to their own place near the mills, where they worked and found an elderly and caring lady who took good care of their son. The following year, their son Nishan was born, and the same lady took care of him as well. Just imagine: Satenig, not quite sixteen, was now the mother of two sons. Ohan spoke broken English, and Satenig was as independent as her husband; she knew how important it was to learn the English language, and soon she spoke English fluently — now she mastered three languages — Armenian, Arabic, and English.

Times were not easy for them. As did so many Americans, they lived during the Great Depression, but they never complained. Satenig continued to work in the mill, so they would be able to give their children a decent life, even though they were poor; though their marriage was arranged, their hearts filled with love and respect for each other as the years passed. Being uneducated was not a detriment for them, for they possessed great wisdom. They taught their sons the meaning of honor, honesty, and caring for their fellow man.

Thus, it was no surprise to them when sons Sarkis and Nishan volunteered in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. How proud they were when their sons returned home after the War as heroes, as they carried their medals. Satenig and Ohan were not the kind to demand material things — to them, their wealth was their family, their sons and their families, their love and understanding, and the pride of being a part of this country, as Americans.

After World War II, Ohan and Satenig, along with Nishan and his family, moved to Los Angeles. Ohan and Satenig are buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. As son Nishan stood next to the statue of an angel and looked down on the marker, his eyes filled with tears, as he remembered all those years during which his parents stood beside him as a young boy growing up …


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