By Ruth Bedevian
PARAMUS, N.J. — Writer Dawn Anahid MacKeen explained her mission to Al Shapiro of National Public Radio earlier this year when she was interviewed about her grandfather’s grueling ordeal during the Armenian Genocide: “I had to see the land that he wrote about… at one point when he was in a makeshift camp in what is now Western Syria, a thousand people died from disease in just sixty hours…he really had to summon heroic strength inside to have the courage to continue each day.”
An award winning investigative journalist and author of The Hundred Year Walk, MacKeen reveals an epic account of her grandfather’s courage in the face of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman government a century ago! The Hundred-Year Walk is her quest to tell his story and she does it skillfully through reportage and memoir – chapter by chapter – to poignantly touch hearts with sorrow and yet, hope.
MacKeen will speak about her book and her family history at Bergen Community College on Wednesday, October 19, at 7 p.m., a program cosponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association.
Stepan Miskjian escaped the forced march through the Syrian desert where masses of his fellow countrymen perished. Over a period of 10 years, MacKeen used Stepan’s long-lost journals as a guide and reconstructed her grandfather’s harrowing ordeal and in the process comes to know him intimately. Among the many biographical accounts of eyewitnesses that have been published, her book is unique in that she embarked upon a mission – ten decades later – and physically retraced Stepan’s footsteps to survival through Turkey and the Syrian desert.
In Raqqa (Syria) she met a Sheikh who led her to discover the clan that saved her grandfathers’ life – a life-changing and emotional encounter! To this day she tries to keep in touch with the clan, but communication has become difficult because the area is now controlled by ISIS.
Bergen Community College’s Office of Peace, Justice & Reconciliation, Office of Multicultural Affairs and Tekeyan Cultural Association have joined together to co-sponsor and host MacKeen in the Pitkin Education Center of Bergen Community College 400 Paramus Road, Paramus, Room A-104. Admission is free, but reservations are necessary. RSVP to Tom LaPointe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-879-8977. Seating is open and early arrival is advised. Refreshments will be served. Parking in Lot B. MacKeen has been a staff writer at Salon, Newsday, and Smart Money. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Elle, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere.