In 1989 an 8.2 earthquake almost flattened Armenia, killing over 30,000 people in less than four minutes.
In the midst of utter devastation and chaos, a father left his wife securely at home and rushed to the school where his son was supposed to be, only to discover that the building was as flat as a pancake.
After the initial traumatic shock, he remembered the promise he had made to his son: “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you!” And tears began to fill his eyes. As he looked at the pile of debris that once was the school, it looked hopeless, but he kept remembering his commitment to his son.
He began to concentrate on where he walked his son to class at school each morning. Remembering his son’s classroom would be in the back right corner of the building, he rushed there and started digging through the rubble.
As he was digging, other forlorn parents arrived, and tried to pull him off of what was left of the school saying:
“It’s too late!”
“You can’t help!
“Come on, face reality; there’s nothing you can do!”
“You’re just going to make things worse!”
To each parent, he responded with one line: “Will you help me now?” And then he proceeded to dig for his son, stone by stone.
The fire chief showed up and tried to pull him off of the school’s debris, saying, “Fires are breaking out, explosions are happening everywhere. Go home. You’re in danger.” To which this loving, caring Armenian father asked, “Will you help me now?”
The police came and said, “You’re angry, distraught, but it’s over. Go home. We’ll handle it!” To which he replied, “Will you help me now?” No one helped.
Courageously he proceeded alone because he needed to know for himself if his boy was alive or dead.
He dug for eight hours . . . 12 hours . . . 24 hours … 36 hours . . . then, in the 38th hour, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He screamed his son’s name, “ARMAND!” He heard in reply, “Dad!?! It’s me, Dad! I told the other kids not to worry. I told them that if you were alive, you’d save me and when you saved me, they’d be saved. You promised, ‘No matter what, I’ll always be there for you!’”
The father learned that there were 14 survivors. When the building collapsed, it made a wedge, like a triangle, and it saved them. “Come on out, son!” the father pleaded.
“No, Dad! Let the other kids out first, ’cause I know you’ll get me! No matter what, I know you’ll be there for me!”
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