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Interview with Raffi Armen Bahadarian [9/22/2004]

Dorothy Schneider:

AT THE OFFICE OF CONGRESSMAN DAVID DREIER IN GLENDORA, CALIFORNIA. MR. BAHADARIAN IS 27 YEARS OLD, HAVING BEEN BORN ON JULY 21ST, 1977. MY NAME'S DOROTHY SCHNEIDER, AND I'LL BE THE INTERVIEWER. THANK YOU FOR COMING AND BEING HERE.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

YOU'RE WELCOME.

Dorothy Schneider:

I WOULD LIKE TO START BY ASKING YOU TO TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, AND YOUR BACKGROUND, YOUR FAMILY, WHERE YOU COME FROM, WENT TO SCHOOL, AND HOW YOU GOT TO BE INVOLVED IN THE GULF WAR.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

VERY WELL, I WAS BORN IN BEIRUT, LEBANON, AND MY PARENTS, WHO ARE ARMENIAN, THEY CAME TO LEBANON AFTER THEIR GRANDPARENTS, AFTER THEIR PARENTS WERE INVOLVED IN THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE, WORLD WAR I. HAVING MIGRATED TO LEBANON, I WENT THROUGH THE CIVIL WAR, BROKE OUT IN '75 IN BEIRUT, LEBANON, SO MY PARENTS WERE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO BE ABLE TO COME TO AMERICA THROUGH GREEN CARD. AND SO ONLY AFTER ABOUT SIX OR SEVEN MONTHS IN LEBANON, I ARRIVED IN THE UNITED STATES, AND I HAVE LIVED HERE SINCE, MOSTLY IN PASADENA, CALIFORNIA, MY WHOLE LIFE; WE STAYED IN NEW YORK FOR A FEW MONTHS AND GREW UP IN CALIFORNIA. WENT TO AN ARMENIAN PRIVATE SCHOOL UNTIL ABOUT THE SIXTH OR SEVENTH GRADE AND THEN WENT ON TO JUNIOR HIGH AND HIGH SCHOOL IN PASADENA HIGH SCHOOL AND, AT THAT POINT, I WAS THINKING ABOUT JOINING THE ARMED SERVICES BUT MY COUNSELORS, AND, YOU KNOW, MY PARENTS, MY FRIENDS ADVISED ME NOT TO DO THAT, GO TO COLLEGE INSTEAD, SO I DID GO TO COLLEGE. MY SOPHOMORE YEAR IN COLLEGE I REALLY DECIDED IT WAS TIME FOR ME TO LOOK INTO SOMETHING WITH THE MILITARY. I WANTED TO JOIN THE RESERVES AND THEN GRADUATE AND BECOME AN OFFICER. I DIDN'T REALLY KNOW WHERE TO GO SO I ENDED UP AT THE MARINE CORPS RECRUITING STATION BECAUSE I HAD THE GREATEST FEAR AND BASICALLY THE RECRUITER SAID, "IT'S NOT WHAT WE CAN GIVE YOU, IT'S WHAT YOU CAN GIVE US," AND I WAS JUST TAKEN ABACK BY THAT, SO I JOINED AND I STAYED IN THE RESERVES FOR TWO YEARS, GRADUATED. I WAS GETTING READY TO GET INVOLVED IN THE OFFICER PROGRAM, THE ACTIVE DUTY FOUR-YEAR PROGRAM, AT WHICH POINT SOME FRIENDS IN THE RESERVE UNIT I WAS SERVING IN ADVISED ME TO LOOK TO, YOU KNOW, LAW ENFORCEMENT INSTEAD. "YOU DON'T WANT TO REALLY DO OFFICER SCHOOL RIGHT NOW." AND SO I CHOSE BETWEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT AND APPLIED WITH THE L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT WHICH I'VE BEEN SERVING IN FOR FIVE YEARS NOW. BUT I CONTINUED TO FINISH MY RESERVE DUTIES, WHICH WERE FOR SIX YEARS. TOWARDS THE END OF THE SIX-YEAR CONTRACT IS WHEN SEPTEMBER 11 OCCURRED, AND THEN, SOON AFTER THAT, WE GOT NOTICE, MY UNIT, THAT WE WOULD BE ACTIVATED FOR HOMELAND SECURITY. AND PRETTY MUCH WE WERE ACTIVATED IN DECEMBER, DECEMBER/JANUARY OF 2002, 2001/2002. AND WE ACCEPTED DUTY FOR ABOUT A YEAR IN CAMP PENDLETON, CALIFORNIA. WE WERE WAITING TO GET DEACTIVATED AT WHICH POINT WE WERE SLOTTED TO BECOME THE ONLY RESERVE INFANTRY UNIT TO BE ASSIGNED TO THE ACTIVE DUTY COMPONENTS BEING MADE UP TO GO OVER FOR THE OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. SO WE GOT EXTENDED AND THEN WENT OVER TO IRAQ IN FEBRUARY, AND I WAS THERE FOR THE INITIAL ATTACK AND THEN DRIVE UP TO BAGHDAD, COMING HOME IN JUNE OF 2003. AND PRETTY MUCH I STAYED ON ACTIVE DUTY FOR A FEW MORE MONTHS AND NOW I'M AT A POINT WHERE I'M DONE WITH MY OBLIGATION AND I'M GOING BACK AND FORTH WITH MY WIFE WHETHER OR NOT I WANT TO STAY IN. I'D LIKE TO STAY IN, MY WIFE, OBVIOUSLY, IS A PRIORITY IN MY LIFE, SO WE'RE DECIDING WHAT TO DO, BUT I KNOW I HAVE TO GO BACK PROBABLY NEXT YEAR, TOO, SO, THAT'S IT.

Dorothy Schneider:

SO, DURING THE WAR YOU WERE IN BAGHDAD OR WERE YOU IN OTHER PARTS OF IRAQ?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

WE STARTED OFF IN KUWAIT, THAT'S WHERE WE ARRIVED FIRST. WE WERE ASSIGNED TO THE FIRST DIVISION WHICH WAS THE ONLY MARINE DIVISION IN IRAQ AT THE TIME ALONG WITH THE ARMY'S TWO UNITS. AND WE DROVE THROUGH KUWAIT ALL THE WAY UP THROUGH NASIRIYAH, AND THEN ALONG THE EASTERN ROUTE GOING ALL THE WAY UP TO THE CITY OF AL KUT, AND THEN WE WENT WEST TO, I BELIEVE, AL DIWANIYAH AND THEN BACK EAST TO BAGHDAD, AND BEING ONE OF THE FIRST UNITS TO ARRIVE ON THE EASTERN PORTION OF THAT IS WHERE WE STAYED FOR MOST OF OUR CONTINUED OPERATIONS AND THEN JUST WENT BACK SOUTH TO KUWAIT AND CAME HOME, SO.

Dorothy Schneider:

WE WERE WATCHING THOSE PICTURES ON CNN OF THOSE TANKS ENDLESSLY, HOUR AFTER HOUR GOING THROUGH THE DESERT, THAT WAS PART OF WHAT YOU WERE DOING?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

YES, AND I REMEMBER JUST MILES AND MILES OF COUNTLESS, HUNDREDS OF VEHICLES AND IN A CONVOY, AND IN A MATTER OF TWO WEEKS, TWO, TWO-AND-A- HALF WEEKS WE WERE DRIVING FIVE HUNDRED KILOMETERS UP TO BAGHDAD, SO --

Dorothy Schneider:

AND YOU GOT CAUGHT IN THOSE TERRIBLE SANDSTORMS?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

OH YEAH, THE INFAMOUS SANDSTORMS, SEVERAL NIGHTS OF THOSE.

Dorothy Schneider:

I'M DEPARTING A LITTLE BIT HERE FROM THE QUESTIONS.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

SURE.

Dorothy Schneider:

DID YOU FEEL AS IF THE PEOPLE WERE GREETING YOU AS LIBERATORS AND NOT OCCUPIERS?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

YEAH, SURE. EVERYONE I RUN INTO FROM FAMILY, FRIENDS, INITIALLY WHEN I CAME BACK TO EVEN NOW WANT TO KNOW, SPECIALLY WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS COMING UP, AND GET SOME KIND OF JUSTIFICATION AND IT WAS THE SAME AND WILL BE THE SAME FOREVER, IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT THE NEWS MEDIA GIVES A DEPICTION OF HOW THINGS ARE OVER THERE, NOT LIKE HOW WE EXPERIENCED THEM. AND, ALL I KNOW IS THE MONTHS I WAS THERE, MYSELF AND EVERYONE ELSE IN MY UNIT, THE ONLY CONTACT WE HAD WITH IRAQI MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN, YOUNG AND OLD WAS INCREDIBLY SUPPORTIVE, VERY EXCITED TO SEE US THERE. I JUST REMEMBER LITTLE KIDS YELLING, "YAY BUSH, YAY MARINES." AND OBVIOUSLY, YOU HAVE REMNANTS OF IRAQIS AND THE REPUBLICAN GUARD AND SOME INSURGENTS COMING IN NOW WHERE IT'S CHANGED A LITTLE BIT, BUT THE OVERALL FEELING WAS JUST SUPPORT --

Dorothy Schneider:

INITIALLY IT WAS POSITIVE?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

INITIALLY IT WAS, YES.

Dorothy Schneider:

NOW YOU SAY YOU CHOSE, WHY AGAIN DID YOU CHOOSE THE MARINES? WHY NOT SOMETHING A LITTLE EASIER LIKE THE NAVY OR SOMETHING?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

THAT'S WHY, BECAUSE I WAS AFRAID AND, I MEAN, I CAN GO OFF ON THE MARINE CORPS, BUT THERE'S THIS ELEMENT OF FEAR AND JUST BE OUT THERE. AND I KNEW IF I WAS GOING TO BE OUT THERE AND DO SOMETHING I WANTED TO DO, I WOULDN'T SAY THE BEST, BUT SOMETHING THAT WAS GOING TO CHALLENGE ME. AND HAVING BEEN BORN IN LEBANON I HAD HEARD STORIES OF HOW THE MARINES HAD BEEN THERE IN THE '50S FOR MY PARENTS. AND ALSO YOU HAVE THE ARMY IN '83.

Dorothy Schneider:

RIGHT.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

SO I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN MARINES TO HAVE BEEN IN LEBANON YOU KNOW, FROM PRESIDENT REAGAN AND SUPPORTING US AND TRYING TO BE A PEACE-KEEPING FORCE THERE AND MY PARENTS HAVE ALWAYS HAD GREAT EXPERIENCE WITH THE MARINES THERE AS WELL. SO I KNEW I WANTED TO ASSOCIATE MYSELF WITH THEM.

Dorothy Schneider:

DID YOU FIND WHEN YOU ENLISTED THAT IT WAS MORE DIFFICULT OR EASIER THAN YOU HAD EXPECTED, OR ABOUT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I GOT TO BE HONEST, I THINK EVERY MARINE BEFORE THEY START BOOT CAMP, YOU SEE THE MOVIE "FULL METAL JACKET" BY STANLEY KUBRIK, AND IT'S A '60S DEPICT, AND IT'S EXACTLY THE SAME EXCEPT OBVIOUSLY IT'S -- EXPECT FOR A COUPLE OF THINGS, PHYSICAL ABUSE OR CONTACT ISN'T THERE. SO I KNEW GOING IN THIS IS WHAT I'M GOING TO EXPECT, AND IT WAS EXACTLY THE SAME. I WAS THE PROTESTANT LAY LEADER OF MY PLATOON, AND I THINK THE SECOND OR THIRD DAY I HAD RECRUITS CRYING TO ME, "YOU KNOW, OUR DIS ARE SCARING US," AND "WHAT CAN WE DO, CAN I SEE THE CHAPLAIN?" AND, HERE I AM, I'M IN MY SECOND OR THIRD DAY AS WELL SO IT WAS SCARY AND BUT YOU GET THROUGH IT. EVERY BODY ELSE HAS AS WELL, SO IT'S A MYSTERY.

Dorothy Schneider:

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR INSTRUCTORS?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I DO. I HAD FOUR INSTRUCTORS. ONE INSTRUCTOR HAD TATOOS ALL ON HIS ARMS AND ANOTHER INSTRUCTOR, LUCIANA, HE WAS BALD AND HE HAD BIG DARK BROWN EYES, JUST LOOKED VERY MEAN AND AND HE JUST GAVE THIS REAL SERIOUS AND SCARY LOOK, AND I KNOW A LOT OF THE RECRUITS WERE SCARED OF HIM. BUT OVERALL THEY GUIDED US AND --

Dorothy Schneider:

THAT'S MIND GAMES, TOO.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

DEFINITELY, DEFINITELY. AND BEING A SERGEANT NOW, WHICH IS WHAT THEIR RANKS WERE BACK THEN, I CAN RELATE TO THE PURPOSE THEY HAD AND OF THE TRAINING AND SO FORTH, SO, DEFINITELY.

Dorothy Schneider:

NOW, OBVIOUSLY WHEN YOU WERE IN IRAQ YOU SAW COMBAT.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

WE DID.

Dorothy Schneider:

YOU BROUGHT SOME THINGS WITH YOU TODAY TO SHOW US I COUPLE OF THINGS --

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

SURE.

Dorothy Schneider:

-- THINGS YOU BROUGHT BACK WITH YOU FROM IRAQ.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

DEFINITELY. I'LL START OFF WITH -- THIS IS A MARINE CORPS ISSUED FLEECE THAT WE WEAR, AND I REMEMBER ON OUR INITIAL DRIVE UP WENT THROUGH SOME -- IN NASIRIYAH, WHICH WE LATER REFERRED TO AS AMBUSH ALLY, THAT INITIAL STRONGHOLD, AND I CAN'T REMEMBER AT WHAT POINT THIS OCCURRED, BUT THIS WAS PLACED ON MY ELBOW AS LIKE AN ELBOW GUARD FOR ELBOW SOFTENING BECAUSE I WAS ON TOP OF A HUMVEE ON BOTH SIDES. I HAD MYSELF ON THE LEFT AND ON THE RIGHT. AND ALL I KNOW IS WE WENT THROUGH PARTS WHERE THERE WAS GRENADES BEING THROWN AND SHRAPNEL, AND ROUNDS COMING ALL OVER THE PLACE. AND I NOTICED THAT AFTER WE HAD DRIVEN THROUGH THAT THERE WAS SHRAPNEL ON THE BED OF THE HUMVEE AND JUST COUPLE OF SPOTS ON -- I DON'T KNOW AGAIN IF IT'S JUST BULLET HOLES OR SOMEWHERE SHRAPNEL, BUT THANK GOD, JUST BLESSED TO HAVE JUST GOTTEN OUT.

Dorothy Schneider:

YES.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I JUST THINK IT'S A NEAT LITTLE REMINDER.

Dorothy Schneider:

YES.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

OF GOD'S PROTECTION AND, AS WE KEPT GOING FORWARD, OBVIOUSLY, HUNDREDS OF DEAD SOLDIERS, IRAQI SOLDIERS AND THESE ARE JUST A COUPLE OF HELMETS THAT WE WERE ABLE TO RECOVER AND BRING BACK. SO MANY OF THE ITEMS WE WERE NOT ALLOWED TO BRING BACK, THE WEAPONS AND SO FORTH.

Dorothy Schneider:

RIGHT.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

BUT THEY ALLOWED US TO BRING HELMETS BACK.

Dorothy Schneider:

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT INSIGNIA ON THAT ONE HELMET IS?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

THIS IS ACTUALLY, THIS IS ACTUALLY MY UNITS INSIGNIA, WE WROTE ON IT, THAT'S 81S, THAT'S A WEAPONS COMPANY, .81 MILLIMETER MORTAR LOGO. WE WERE ABLE TO GET A GAS MASK. THEY HAD THOUSANDS OF BRAND NEW GAS MASKS AT AN AMMO DUMP WE CAME ACROSS, WHICH WAS AMAZING. SO THAT WAS A REALLY NEAT THING TO COME ACROSS, AN IRAQI GAS MASK, AS YOU CAN SEE HERE. AT THE SAME DUMP.

Dorothy Schneider:

WAS THAT CLOSE TO BAGHDAD?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

THAT WAS IN, THAT WAS IN BAGHDAD AS WE WERE DRIVING UP BEFORE BAGHDAD. AND HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS OF ROUNDS AND AK 47 WEAPONS AND GUNS. LET ME SEE WHAT ELSE. A COUPLE OF MORE THINGS, SMALLER ITEMS.

Dorothy Schneider:

AND ALL OF THESE THINGS --

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

MOST OF THESE THINGS HAD BEEN ABANDONED OR, AGAIN, MOST OF THE IRAQI TROOPS IN SMALL, KIND OF LITTLE FIGHTING HOLES THEY HAD THREE OR FOUR ROLLS OF HARDENED BREAD. WE BELIEVE THEY WERE LEFT THERE TO BASICALLY EITHER DIE OR --

Dorothy Schneider:

LITERALLY -- -

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

LITERALLY BREAD. I MEAN LITERALLY THREE OR FIVE ROLLS, SOME AMMUNITION, AND THAT WAS IT. AND SOME HAD FLED, BUT SOME HAD BEEN KILLED. AND THESE WERE THE GEAR THEY HAD LEFT BEHIND. THIS IS JUST SOME PATCH LEFT FROM AN IRAQI SPECIAL FORCES, THE AIR WINGS, AND JUST A MEDAL, AN IRAQI MEDAL WE WERE ABLE TO PICK UP AND SOME OTHER ITEMS, A PARATROOPER BERET COVER AND --

Dorothy Schneider:

THAT'S THE KIND THAT BAGHDAD BOB WORE.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

YES, YES. THAT'S REALLY SOME OF THE ITEMS I DO HAVE.

Dorothy Schneider:

HOW HAD YOU STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FAMILY WHILE YOU WERE IN IRAQ? I'VE HEARD THAT'S BEEN AN ISSUE.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

SURE, WE WERE REAL FORTUNATE, AND I SAY FORTUNATE BECAUSE TO ME IT'S SPECIAL BECAUSE AFTER CLOSE TO ALMOST TWO YEARS, COMING UP ON TWO YEARS, SO MUCH HAS CHANGED. YOU HAVE SO MANY BASES IN IRAQ, WHERE SO MANY, I DON'T WANT TO SAY LUXURIES, BUT SO MUCH IS DIFFERENT. BACK THEN, NO SHOWERS, NO RESTROOMS, EVERYTHING WAS ON THE GO. HERE YOU ARE, TRYING TO LIBERATE A COUNTRY AND, NO CONNECTION TO IT BEFORE WE ARRIVED. SO I WAS FORTUNATE BECAUSE IT ALLOWED ME TO WRITE TO MY FIANCE AND I -- SO MUCH SUPPORT FROM CHURCH, MY CHURCH IN SUN VALLEY, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH, THEY SENT ME HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF BOXES FILLED WITH GOODIES THAT I WAS ABLE TO PASS OUT TO EVERYONE. I HAVE HUNDREDS OF LETTERS FROM SCHOOL KIDS, TEACHERS, WHO MADE THEIR STUDENTS, BUT THIS SPECIFICALLY IS ALL MY LETTERS FROM MY WIFE, MY FIANCE, GIRLFRIEND AT THE TIME, AND THEY'RE SO SPECIAL TO ME AND SO I HAD NO EMAIL WITH HER, I THINK I HAD MAYBE TWO PHONE CALLS TO HER AT THE FIRST STAGES BEFORE WE WERE COMING BACK HOME. BUT SHE WAS GLUED TO THE TV AND I WAS JUST GLUED TO THESE LETTERS AS WELL.

Dorothy Schneider:

SO YOU HAD NO TROUBLE OBVIOUSLY WITH THE MAIL GETTING THROUGH.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

WE ESTIMATED TOWARDS THE END A FEW WEEKS. I KNOW AT THE END WE DIDN'T HAVE ANY CONTACT FOR ABOUT A MONTH AND THEN MAIL STARTED TRICKLING IN BECAUSE, IN KUWAIT, MAIL STARTED COMING IN BECAUSE WE WERE ESTABLISHED THERE IN KUWAIT BEFORE WE -- ONCE WE GOT TO IRAQ, THE SUPPLY ROUTES, THEY DECIDED TO PUNCH THROUGH ALL THE WAY TO BAGHDAD. INITIALLY WE WERE GOING TO STOP, BUT APPARENTLY WE PUNCHED THROUGH. SO THERE WAS NO WAY TO GET CONTROL OF SUPPLIES. THERE WERE DAYS WHEN WE WERE SHORT ON FOOD, AND, BUT IT WORKED OUT BECAUSE IT WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO GET TO BAGHDAD. AND THAT'S HOW IT WORKED OUT.

Dorothy Schneider:

I'VE HEARD ABOUT THOSE. OH, WHAT DO YOU CALL THEM? I KNOW THEY HAVE AN ACRONYM --

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

MRES.

Dorothy Schneider:

YES.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

THE MEALS READY TO EAT.

Dorothy Schneider:

HOW'S THE FOOD?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I LOST CLOSE TO, AND THIS IS NO JOKE, I LOST ABOUT 40 POUNDS. MOSTLY I JUST WANTED TO SLIM UP AND WORK OUT AND SO FORTH. I CHOSE NOT TO EAT AS MUCH AS I COULD HAVE. IT WAS MORE IMPORTANT FOR MY GUYS TO BE FED. BUT THEY'RE NOT BAD, YOU GET USED TO IT, AND YOU BEGIN TO HAVE FAVORITES AND YOU TRADE WITH OTHER MARINES AND ONCE WE GOT TO BAGHDAD WE WERE ABLE TO HAVE SOME, I GUESS, UN RATIONED FOOD, SOME FRENCH PACKAGES. SO IT WASN'T SO BAD.

Dorothy Schneider:

THAT'S GOOD. AND THEN EVENTUALLY, OBVIOUSLY, YOU GOT SOME PACKAGES FROM HOME.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I GOT PACKAGES FROM HOME, THAT WAS A TREAT.

Dorothy Schneider:

GOT YOUR TWINKIES AND YOUR PRINGLES AND --

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

TWINKIES AND TRAIL MIXES AND ALL THAT STUFF.

Dorothy Schneider:

HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH THE PRESSURE AND THE STRESS THAT YOU MUST HAVE BEEN UNDER 24 HOURS A DAY?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

ONCE AGAIN, IT'S A LOT DIFFERENT FOR ME THAN IT IS FOR MOST PEOPLE AND I'M PROBABLY AN EXCEPTION. I COME FROM A UNIT, OBVIOUSLY IT'S AN INFANTRY UNIT. WE HAVE NO FEMALES IN MY UNIT, SO JUST THAT, IN ITSELF, HAD GIVEN WAY TO THE MACHO TYPE OF TRAINING AND SO FORTH IN MALE UNITS WHERE A SPIRITUALITY ISN'T REALLY ADDRESSED AND JUST THE FOCUS IS MORE ON TRAINING AND GETTING THINGS TAKEN CARE OF. HAVING SAID THAT, AS A CHRISTIAN, MY MISSION THERE WAS FIRST AND FOREMOST DO WHAT I BELIEVED WAS THE RIGHT THING, THAT BEING ALSO TO CARRY OUT THE ORDERS AND MAKE SURE EVERYTHING WAS TAKEN CARE OF IN REGARDS TO THE MILITARY. BUT, FIRST AND FOREMOST, I KNEW THERE WAS A NEED TO REACH OUT TO MY FELLOW MARINES, MY PEERS, MY JUNIORS BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE IN A LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION IT WAS PRIME OPPORTUNITY FOR THEM TO HEAR ABOUT THINGS THAT I KNOW THEY WOULD NOT GIVE EAR TO BACK IN THE STATES WHERE YOU HAVE THE LUXURIES OF HOME AND FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND SO FORTH. SO IT WAS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY FOR ME AND TOOK AWAY FROM MY STRESS AND MY FEARS BECAUSE IN THE END, I MEAN WHEN YOU REALLY LOOK AT PEOPLE, LIKE KING DAVID WHO WENT THROUGH WARS ALL HIS LIFE AND, I JUST KNEW GOD WAS PROTECTING MY AND, I'M HERE TODAY GONE TOMORROW REGARDLESS. THAT'S WHAT I TOLD MY FATHER-IN-LAW WHEN HE ASKED ME, "WHY SHOULD I GIVE MY DAUGHTER TO YOU?" I SAID, "SIR, I'M HERE TODAY GONE TOMORROW, WHETHER IT'S A CAR ACCIDENT, A HEART ATTACK, IT'S JUST ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY WHERE GOD CAN USE ME." SO THAT ACTUALLY HAD NO BEARING ON ME WHATSOEVER. THERE WAS NOT A MINUTE WHERE I WAS AFRAID. AND I DON'T SAY THAT IN A COCKY WAY. I JUST SAY THAT SINCERELY BECAUSE IT'S JUST KNOWING THAT THERE'S ANGELS PROTECTING ME ALL AROUND AND, YOU KNOW IT'S, THERE WAS NO FEAR. YOU JUST REVERT BACK TO TRAINING AND WE JUST KNEW, I JUST KNEW, THAT THE JOB WILL GET DONE AND EVERYTHING'S IN GOD'S HANDS, SO.

Dorothy Schneider:

ONE THING THAT YOU SAID IN THE BEGINNING ABOUT THE FACT THAT YOU FELT IT WAS DIFFERENT IN YOUR PARTICULAR UNIT BECAUSE THERE WERE NO WOMEN -- HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WOMEN CHANGED THE ATTITUDE OF THE MEN IN A UNIT?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

WELL, JUST THE SOCIETY --

Dorothy Schneider:

I'M NOT TRYING TO BE SEXIST OR ANYTHING.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

SURE, SURE.

Dorothy Schneider:

I'M JUST, PSYCHOLOGICALLY, HOW DID IT AFFECT THEM?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

SURE. I MEAN, I'VE BEEN WITH THIS UNIT FOR SEVEN, EIGHT YEARS, AND THESE GUYS HAVE ONLY KNOWN ALL MALE INFANTRY UNIT, SO IT'S NEVER BEEN AN ISSUE. JUST TO SAY THAT, OBVIOUSLY, JUST LIKE SOCIETY HAS CHANGED, WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY WHERE WE ALL NEED TO BE MORE CAREFUL TO RELATE TO EACH OTHER AND SO FORTH, AND I KNOW WITHOUT HAVING WOMEN, IT'S LIKE, IT'S LIKE BEING A LITTLE KID. WHEN YOUR MOM'S THERE YOU'RE GOING TO ACT A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY BECAUSE YOU'RE BEING WATCHED. WHEN MOM'S NOT THERE AND YOU'RE WITH YOUR BUDDIES, YOU'RE OUT IN THE BACK CAUSING TROUBLE, AND YOU'RE GETTING IN TROUBLE. SO IN THAT ASPECT IT'S LIKE THINGS THAT CAN BE, I DON'T WANT TO SAY OVERLOOKED, BUT YOU'RE MORE OPEN TO JUST BEING A TYPICAL MARINE.

Dorothy Schneider:

ONE OF THE GUYS.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

ONE OF THE GUYS. AND THERE'S NO OFFENSE IN A RESPECT SENSE. SO THAT ACTUALLY HAD CARRIED INTO, AGAIN LIKE A MENTIONED THE SPIRITUALITY THING. NOT THAT'S A MALE/FEMALE THING, BUT IT ALLOWED THERE TO BE -- BEING AWAY IN IRAQ ALLOWED THERE TO BE THAT BROKENNESS WHERE EVEN THE HARDEST OF MARINES REALIZES THAT YOU'RE HERE TODAY GONE TOMORROW AND MAYBE I SHOULD THINK ABOUT THINGS LIKE FAITH AND THOSE KIND OF THINGS, SO.

Dorothy Schneider:

HOW DID YOU GET NEWS OR DID YOU KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON OR, LET'S SAY THE JESSICA LYNCH INCIDENT?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

SURE.

Dorothy Schneider:

DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THOSE THINGS OR --

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

WE, WE HAD NO CLUE. INITIALLY, WE WOULD GET THINGS A DAY OR TWO LATER. FOR EXAMPLE, WE HAD HEARD WE CAN'T GO OUT THIS ROUTE BECAUSE THE MARINES WERE ATTACKED A DAY BEFORE. SO IT TOOK A DAY OR TWO. WE HEARD, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE REALLY UPSET BECAUSE SOME ARMY UNIT HAD BEEN TAKEN HOSTAGE OR SOMETHING. SO JUST RUMORS OF THINGS HERE, GLIMPSE OF THINGS THERE. AND I MEAN WHEN YOU HAVE HUNDREDS OF VEHICLES IN A CONVOY AND YOU'RE JUST ONE SMALL VEHICLE, PEOPLE AT THE TOP, THE LAST THING THEY WANT TO DO IS GIVE US EVERY DETAIL. OUR NEWS ANCHOR THAT WAS EMBEDDED WITH US, RICK LEVENTHAL FROM FOX NEWS, WHEN HE WOULD COME AROUND HE WOULD GIVE US AS MUCH INFO AS HE COULD ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF THE WAR. WE WERE IN BAGHDAD AND WE STILL DIDN'T KNOW THE NAME OF THE OPERATION; OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. SO, IT TOOK DAYS AT TIMES, BUT IT WASN'T AN ISSUE.

Dorothy Schneider:

DID YOU GET BRIEFED AT ALL FROM YOUR COMMANDING OFFICERS OR --

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

WE DID. BEFORE EVERY MISSION OR EVERY OPERATION, BUT NOTHING IN THE OVERRULE SCHEME OF THINGS. WE JUST KNEW, FOR EXAMPLE, IT'S TAKING LESS TIME THAN EXPECTED FOR BAGHDAD, YOU KNOW, TO FALL OR TO SURRENDER. WE'RE GOING TO PROGRESS A LITTLE FASTER BECAUSE THERE'S OPENINGS AND SO FORTH. BUT THAT WAS REALLY IT, JUST SUPERFICIAL THINGS, NOT NUMBERS OR --

Dorothy Schneider:

DID YOU, THIS IS KIND OF SILLY BECAUSE I THINK YOU PROBABLY DIDN'T BUT, I'LL ASK YOU THE QUESTION ANYWAY, WERE THERE ANY USO ENTERTAINERS OR ANYBODY THAT EVER CAME OVER TO VISIT? DID YOU SEE MANY DIGNITARIES, POLITICIANS, MADONNA? I DON'T KNOW.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

SURE, SURE. BESIDES, BESIDES HAVING, I FORGET IF IT'S TOM BROKAW OR PETER JENNINGS, IN KUWAIT BEFORE THE ACTUAL WAR TOOK OFF, NO ONE IN IRAQ. AGAIN, BEING THE FIRST UNIT THERE WE LEFT EARLY ENOUGH NOT TO COME ACROSS ANY OF THE U.S. OPERATIONS OR WHATEVER.

Dorothy Schneider:

AND THEY WOULD HAVE PROBABLY STAYED BACK IN KUWAIT MOST OF THEM?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

KUWAIT OR FURTHER SOUTH WHERE TROOPS HAD ALREADY ESTABLISHED BASES AND OPERATIONS AND THINGS AND SO FORTH.

Dorothy Schneider:

BUT SOME OF THE PLACES LIKE NAJEET AND NASIRIYAH, THEY WERE IN BAZRAH, THEY WERE ON THE WAY TO BAGHDAD, RIGHT?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

THAT'S TRUE. AND EVEN NOW THEY HAVE PROBLEMS WITH THE SOUTH AND SO I'M NOT TOO FAMILIAR OR AWARE THOSE WOULD HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED, BUT YES, EVEN NASIRIYAH AND BAZRAH --

Dorothy Schneider:

WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY SAFE.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY SAFE, NO.

Dorothy Schneider:

HOW DID YOU -- AND YOU'VE ALREADY ANSWERED THIS QUESTION, AND I THINK IN A VERY POSITIVE WAY, BUT HOW DID YOU FEEL AS IF YOU GOT ALONG WITH YOUR FELLOW SOLDIERS AND YOUR FELLOW OFFICERS?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

IT REALLY IS TRUE WHAT THEY SAY AND WHAT WE KEPT JUST TELLING OUR JUNIORS, THAT THIS ISN'T ABOUT POLITICS OR ABOUT PEOPLE BACK HOME, IT'S NOT REALLY ABOUT THE FLAG OR AMERICA, IT'S ABOUT THE PERSON NEXT TO ME ON MY LEFT AND RIGHT. IT TRULY DOES COME DOWN TO THE BROTHERS YOU'RE THERE WITH AND I CAN'T REALLY EXPLAIN THAT. IT IS A MYSTERY TO PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS SO HARD TO EXPLAIN BUT IN THE END IT REALLY DIDN'T MATTER, IT WAS JUST MAKING SURE THE PERSON TO MY LEFT AND TO MY RIGHT STAYED ALIVE AND TO DO WHAT I CAN, WHATEVER I CAN MAY IT BE STAYING UP, 24, 40 HOURS --

Dorothy Schneider:

IT IS A BAND OF BROTHERS.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

IT IS A BAND OF BROTHERS, AND I'M HAVING A VERY HARD TIME RIGHT NOW DECIDING WHETHER I'M GOING TO REENLIST BECAUSE IT JUST, I DON'T FEEL LIKE MY JOB IS COMPLETE THERE. THERE'S STILL THE NEED. SO MANY SERGEANTS HAVE CHECKED OUT OF THE UNIT AND I JUST, I CAN'T COME UP WITH A RIGHT, MORAL OBLIGATION TO LEAVE BUT YET I HAVE TO OFFSET THAT WITH MY WIFE WHOM I LOVE AND WHO'S MY NUMBER ONE PRIORITY, MY LIFE. SO IT, THAT BROTHERHOOD JUST CALLS AND I REALLY CAN'T EXPLAIN IT, BUT SPECIAL PEOPLE.

Dorothy Schneider:

AND UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS OBVIOUSLY THEY BECOME EVEN MORE SPECIAL.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

(NODS HEAD AFFIRMATIVELY)

Dorothy Schneider:

DID YOU HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME READJUSTING WHEN YOU CAME HOME?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I REALLY DID NOT. ONCE AGAIN MY FAMILY WAS SO SUPPORTIVE AND PROBABLY THE MOST DIFFICULT TIME I HAD IN ADJUSTING WAS ADJUSTING TO THE AMERICAN CULTURE, THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE. HAVING GONE THROUGH THAT EXPERIENCE, WHICH I'M SO THANKFUL FOR TO GOD, IS THAT YOU APPRECIATE THE THINGS IN LIFE, YOU KNOW YOU APPRECIATE A WARM SHOWER, YOU APPRECIATE A TASTE OF FOOD. SO WHEN PEOPLE COMPLAIN ABOUT MY CHEESE BURGER ISN'T MELTED ENOUGH OR MY WATER ISN'T WARM ENOUGH, I AT FIRST, AND OBVIOUSLY I'M BECOMING MORE UNDERSTANDABLE, BUT AT FIRST I COULDN'T STAND IT. I WAS LIKE GIVE ME A BREAK. ESPECIALLY SEEING THE CONDITIONS THESE PEOPLE WERE FORCED TO LIVE IN FOR 30 YEARS, LONGER UNDER SADDAM'S RULE, I MEAN HUT HOUSES DIRTY WATER, THE ABUSE, AND SO FORTH, SO WHEN YOU COME BACK TO AMERICA IT'S JUST WANTING PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE HAVE IT SO WELL HERE, DON'T TAKE WHAT YOU HAVE FOR GRANTED. AND THAT'S PROBABLY THE ONLY ADJUSTMENT ISSUE I HAD BECAUSE PEOPLE JUST WANT TO COMPLAIN IT'S NEVER GOOD ENOUGH, IT'S NEVER GOOD ENOUGH AND WE NEED TO REALIZE FREEDOM, IT'S SPECIAL AND WE HOLD ON TO IT.

Dorothy Schneider:

HAVE YOU JOINED ANY OF THE VETERAN'S ORGANIZATIONS?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I HAVE NOT. I THINK ABOUT IT AND I MIGHT DO THAT. IT'S BEEN A YEAR OF ADJUSTING AND GOING BACK TO WORK AND MY FOCUS BACK ON THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, BUT I'D LIKE TO.

Dorothy Schneider:

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'D LIKE TO ADD? THIS IS YOUR 15 MINUTES OF FAME, IF YOU WILL, I'M SURE THEY'LL HAVE MORE THAN 15 MINUTES, BUT THESE ARE AUDIO TAPES THAT, VIDEOTAPES THAT ARE GOING TO BE WATCHED BY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND COLLEGE STUDENTS AND ADULTS AND I'M -- AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE? AND WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY? WHAT ARE YOUR EXPERIENCES? AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT, ABOUT YOU AND WHAT THIS MEANT TO YOU, AND HOW IT WAS A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE? I KNOW I'VE THROWN ABOUT TEN QUESTIONS IN THERE, BUT JUST IN GENERAL TO TELL US YOUR FEELINGS.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

PROBABLY THE GREATEST THING THIS HAS DONE FOR ME, IF I CAN PUT IT INTO THOSE KINDS OF PARAMETERS, IS JUST APPRECIATE, APPRECIATE THE THINGS, THE INTANGIBLES. I WAS KIND OF MENTIONING EARLIER, THAT IS SO HARD TO DO BECAUSE WE ARE SO IN LUXURY HERE IN AMERICA. THINGS LIKE HOPE AND COURAGE AND COMMITMENT AND DUTY AND FREEDOM AND DISCIPLINE AND THOSE KINDS OF THINGS THAT THE MARINE CORPS HAS TAUGHT ME. ZELL MILLER WROTE A BOOK, "EVERYTHING I LEARNED IN LIFE I LEARNED IN THE MARINE CORPS." IT REALLY IS A NEAT KIND OF HUMOROUS THING, BUT IT'S SO TRUE. AND I REALLY HAVE AN APPRECIATION AND A PASSION FOR THE MARINE CORPS AND THE MARINE CORPS WAY OF LIFE. BUT IN THE END, OBVIOUSLY, MY FAITH IS WHAT ULTIMATELY IS MY FOUNDATION AND I JUST PRAY THAT ALL YOUNG PEOPLE GROWING UP AND THEY REACH A POINT OF SERVICE, SERVICE TO THEIR FELLOW MAN AND TO THEIR COUNTRY AND TO THEIR GOD AND FOR THEM TO HAVE A LASTING PASSION FOR FAITH. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY AND MAYBE I CAN HAVE THAT APPRECIATION KNOWING THAT I COME FROM A PLACE WHERE I'VE EXPERIENCED CIVIL WAR IN LEBANON. MY MOM SAYS YOU WERE BORN IN THE MIDST OF BOMBINGS, OF BARRA, AND IN UNDERGROUND DUNGEONS, AND SO FORTH, AND SO I HAVE AN APPRECIATION FOR THIS COUNTRY, FOR THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED, WHO CONTINUE TO SERVE AND, YOU KNOW, IN THE END IT'S, IN THE END WE'RE ALL, WE'RE ALL HERE TODAY FOR A SHORT TIME. WE'RE HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW, LIKE I'VE SAID. AND WHAT WE DO IN THIS LIFE DETERMINES WHAT WE SPEND THE REST OF OUR LIFE IN ETERNITY. THAT'S WHAT I BELIEVE. SO I JUST ASK THAT YOUNG KIDS GIVE A LOT MORE FOCUS AND ATTENTION TO THE INTANGIBLES. YOU KNOW, SCHOOLS IMPORTANT, EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT BUT I DON'T WANT TO GO TOO MUCH INTO MY POLITICAL VIEWS, BUT SO MUCH CAN BE TAINTED THERE IN THIS WORLD OF LIBERALISM AND NOT MUCH IS SAID TO THINGS LIKE SERVICE AND COUNTRY AND FREEDOM AND WHAT OTHERS HAVE BLED AND DIED FOR. AND SO I ADMIRE OUR PRESIDENT, I ADMIRE EVERYONE UNDER HIM BECAUSE IN THE END, TO ME, AND I DON'T KNOW ABOUT ANYBODY ELSE, BUT IN THE END TO ME IT'S NOT ABOUT THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE WANT TO MAKE IT ABOUT, TO ME IT'S ABOUT CHARACTER, IT'S ABOUT COURAGE AND JUST FOCUS AND VISION AND RESOLVE. IT MAY BE A WAR ON TERROR, IT MAY BE ANYTHING ELSE THAT'S GOING TO COME OUR WAY, AND IT'S GOING TO KEEP COMING. PEOPLE, AMERICANS YOU WANT A BLACK AND WHITE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING, AND WE DON'T SEE HOW THINGS ARE THE WAY THEY ARE, MAYBE WITH PEACE OR FREEDOM OR SO FORTH. THEN, I JUST ASK THAT ALL AMERICANS, MAINLY THE YOUNG KIDS GROWING UP, PUT AN EMPHASIZE ON SERVICE, SERVING YOUR FELLOW MAN. IT'S NOT WHAT MAKES US BETTER OR WHAT MAKES ME BETTER, BUT HOW I CAN SERVE SOMEBODY ELSE. BECAUSE IN THE END, AS MY LORD AND SAVIOUR, CHRIST, ALL HE DID WAS SERVE OTHERS. THAT WAS THE WHOLE PICTURE OF THE CROSS WAS SERVING AND GIVING OF HIMSELF. SO IN THE END, IT'S ABOUT GIVING OF YOURSELF. WHETHER YOU'RE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT, FIREMAN, WHETHER YOU'RE A TEACHER, A STUDENT, A DOCTOR OR A LAWYER, JUST TO SERVE OTHERS. WE'RE SO SELFISH AS INDIVIDUALS. THIS HAS BEEN ONE SMALL PORTION OF MY LIFE WHERE I'VE HAD TO GIVINGLY SERVE AND YOU CAN'T BE SELFISH. YOU CAN'T BE SELFISH IN THE MILITARY BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ARE DYING NEXT TO YOU, LEFT AND RIGHT OF YOU, AND I JUST WANTED TO DRIVE THAT HOME, TO SERVE OTHERS AND LOVE OTHERS AS YOU WANT TO BE LOVED.

Dorothy Schneider:

THAT'S A VERY THOUGHTFUL ANSWER. AND IS THERE -- AS I SAID, FIFTY OR A HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW, I THINK, I DON'T WANT TO PUT WORDS IN YOUR MOUTH, THESE WILL BE THE SAME VALUES.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

DEFINITELY. DEFINITELY. IT'S WHAT I BELIEVE AMERICA WAS FOUNDED ON FROM OUR FOUNDING FATHERS. JUST THE DESIRE TO GIVE FREEDOM TO ALL PEOPLE EQUALLY. AND I KNOW THE TIME FOR CHANGING IS SO UNFORTUNATE. WE'RE FORCED TO CHANGE WITH THE TIMES. AND THERE'S NOT ENOUGH EMPHASIS, THERE'S NOT ENOUGH EMPHASIS PLACED ON SOME OF THE THINGS AND --

Dorothy Schneider:

YOU THINK THAT'S THE FAULT OF THE SCHOOLS OR THE PARENTS OR THE COMMUNITY OR THE MEDIA, WHERE DO YOU THINK THIS SENSE, THIS SENSE THAT WE DON'T HAVE PERHAPS THE SAME SENSE OF OURSELVES AS A NATION AND WHAT WE STAND FOR?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I MEAN ALL --

Dorothy Schneider:

WHERE DOES THAT COME FROM?

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I MEAN, ULTIMATELY, I KNOW, IT TO BE TRUE THAT IT'S A TWO PART ANSWER. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT ANSWER OR THE SPIRITUAL ANSWER AND, OBVIOUSLY, YOU HAVE SOCIAL ANSWERS AND SOCIAL SOLUTIONS AND SO FORTH. ULTIMATELY, IT IS BECAUSE OF MAN'S CONDITION, THE TERRORISTS DID WHAT THEY DID, HITLER DID WHAT HE DID, NOT BECAUSE HE WAS EXTREMELY SICK OR TWISTED, BUT BECAUSE HE ONLY ACTED OUT ON WHAT WE ALL AT TIMES THINK. AND THAT IS WHAT, IF I CAN GIVE ONE MESSAGE, WITHOUT GETTING TOO RELIGIOUS, THAT'S WHAT CHRIST MEANT WHEN HE SPOKE TO THE PHARISEES, WHO ARE SO HYPOCRITICAL, HE SAID, YOU LUST AFTER WOMEN IS THE SAME AS THIS PERSON COMMITTING ADULTERY, OR IF YOU HATE YOUR BROTHER IN YOUR MIND, TO ME, TO GOD, IT'S THE SAME THING AS MURDER. SO IN A SENSE THE TERRORISTS AND HITLER, THEY'RE NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY MAN OR WOMAN CAN BE IN THEIR MIND. SO ON A SPIRITUAL SENSE I KNOW WHAT HAS BEEN THE CAUSE OF THESE THINGS IS MAN'S SIN, MAN'S SHORTCOMINGS, OR MAN'S REFUSAL TO ACKNOWLEDGE GOD. YOU TAKE AWAY, YOU KNOW, YOU LOOK AT THE 50S, WHAT A GENERATION THAT WAS, AND YOU TAKE AWAY PRAYER IN SCHOOLS AND ONE NATION UNDER GOD AWAY FROM THE PLEDGE. THESE KINDS OF THINGS, AND AGAIN I DON'T WANT TO GET TOO INTO POLITICS AND RELIGION, BUT YOU START DOING THESE THINGS AND YOU CAN ONLY EXPECT A PATTERN OF UN-GODLINESS AND UNGODLY LIVING. AND AMERICA IS JUST AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT THIS GREAT NATION IS TURNING TO BECAUSE OF THAT REFUSAL TO GO BACK TO, YOU KNOW, THE FOUNDING FATHERS AND THE RIGHT, AND I'M NOT JUST TALKING ABOUT IMMORAL LIVING, WE CAN BE AS MORAL AS WE WANT TO BE, IT'S NOT ONLY ABOUT MORAL LIVING, IT'S ABOUT OUR HEARTS. YOU KNOW, WE CAN PUT ON THAT GAME FACE, YOU KNOW, BEING ALL LOVEY DOVEY WITH PEOPLE, AND, YOU KNOW, BE THAT NICE SUNDAY CHRISTIAN OR CHURCH PERSON OR WHATEVER, BUT I'M TALKING ABOUT MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY, EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES, HOW IS OUR LIFE. IN THE END THAT I KNOW THAT'S WHAT WE'RE MISSING. SOCIALLY, YEAH SURE, YOU CAN TRY OF THE PROGRAMS AND THINGS. IN THE END, JUST LIKE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST, THERE IS NO SOLUTION TO PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST, NOT BECAUSE THERE AREN'T SOCIAL PROGRAMS WE CAN TRY OR TALKS AND SO FORTH BECAUSE THAT IS A RELIGIOUS SPIRITUAL ISSUE. AND WE AS AMERICANS DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT. THAT LAND WAS PROMISED TO ABRAHAM AND BECAUSE OF, BECAUSE OF ISSUES WITH HOW ABRAHAM GAVE UP HIS PROMISE, BOTH THE MUSLIMS AND THE JEWS CALL ABRAHAM THEIR FATHER, SO THEY'RE STRUGGLING OVER A SPIRITUAL LAND, A SPIRITUAL, AND IT'S WAR AND IT'S BEEN WAR AND IT'S GOING TO CONTINUE TO BE WAR BECAUSE OF SPIRITUAL THINGS SO -- ANYWAY TO WRAP IT UP I SAY CALL BACK TO SPIRITUAL, GODLY LIVING WOULD WITH BE THE ANSWER AND, UNTIL WE DO THAT, WE CAN EXPECT THERE TO BE LITTLE TIMES OF HIGHS AND LITTLE TIMES OF LOWS, BUT IN THE END IT WILL NOT GET BETTER. IT MIGHT SOUND PESSIMISTIC, BUT THE ANSWER IS THERE. I KNOW IF WE TURN BACK DO GOD, IF THIS COUNTRY TURNS BACK TO ITS ROOTS, ITS ROOTS OF FAITH AND SERVICE AND AWAY FROM THE THINGS THAT HAVE JUST DRAWN US SO MUCH INTO THIS LIFE OF EVIL, I DON'T THINK THERE IS MUCH THAT CAN BE DONE. BUT, IT'S IN GOD'S HANDS.

Dorothy Schneider:

WELL, THANK YOU RAFFI, YOU'VE BEEN EXTREMELY --

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Dorothy Schneider:

EXTREMELY ARTICULATE AND I ADMIRE WHAT YOU'VE DONE.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

THANK YOU.

Dorothy Schneider:

AND I KNOW I SPEAK FOR LOTS AND LOTS OF PEOPLE, MANY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ADMIRE WHAT YOU AND YOUR COMRADES HAVE DONE FOR US.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Dorothy Schneider:

THANK YOU. PLEASURE MEETING YOU.

Raffi Armen Bahadarian:

I APPRECIATE IT, THANK YOU.

 
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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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