WATERTOWN, Mass. — Harry Keshishian, a member of the Armenian American Veterans of Greater Boston (Amvets), has turned 100 years old.
The new centenarian, who was drafted to the US Army in October 1942 at the start of World War II, was the guest of honor at a small celebration hosted by Amvets at the Oakley Country Club on December 29, 2021.
“I said to myself, how long can this go on?” he chuckled, when asked what he wished for upon blowing out his candles. “I take it as it comes,” he sighed, referencing a well-known Yogi-ism: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”
Born on December 30, 1921 in the Bronx, Keshishian moved to Watertown, Massachusetts with his family at a very young age. He attended Watertown High School, where he fondly recalled building scale models of flyable airplanes with three close friends, who have since passed. He later attended Wentworth Institute of Technology, where he studied to become a machinist. During the war, he served in cities across the US, working hard at aircraft factories. He says he never experienced battle and was ultimately discharged in 1946.
In the years that followed, Keshishian worked with his father at a Boston-based photo engraving company. He raised three children with his wife Osnif, who he lovingly cared for during her long battle with multiple sclerosis. She passed away in 2007. That same year, Keshishian joined the local Amvets.
A self-proclaimed “fierce American,” Keshishan is an all-around history buff. “I love this country. There’s no other country like it,” he told the Weekly.
But his heart also beats for his homeland. Keshishian, who said his maternal grandfather was the prolific author and educator Tavit Khachgonts, was pained to witness from afar the tragedy of the 2020 Artsakh War. “It bothers me very much that Armenia is always suffering from these turmoils,” he expressed, “Being such a small country, there’s very little friendship around Armenia except maybe Russia. It seems no one pays attention to Armenia. I just hope that they can keep the peace because it’s so small and powerless that they can’t do very much.”
Keshishian, who now lives in Waltham, Massachusetts, says he values the friendships he’s built over the years. “When I reminisce, it’s strange how life starts and ends,” he shared, “It’s nowhere near what you’d expect. You just have to do the best you can.”