1988 Earthquake Memorial Day: December 7
1988 Earthquake Memorial Day is a public holiday in Armenia.
Also known as the Spitak Earthquake, it was an earthquake of magnitude 6.9 on the Richter scale, which had its epicenter in the Spitak region of Armenia. It occurred on December 7, 1988 at 11:41 Armenian local time. 25,000 people were killed due to old and poorly built structures. The day remains fresh in the memory of survivors and is
remembered in the history books of Armenia.
History of the 1988 Earthquake in Armenia
The whole city of Spitak was destroyed, and surrounding cities were damaged. Due to the extensive damage in the region, the destruction of medical support facilities, and the cold winter at the time, the Armenian Government had to ask for foreign aid. Armenia was still under the influence of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but most Western countries came to the aid of Armenians after Mikhail Gorbachev made a formal request of aid to the United States, the first time such request ever happened after World War II. Humanitarian aid came in forms of rescue equipment, medical supplies, and search teams from all over the world. The city of Spitak was completely rebuilt at a nearby site, and many of the houses look like the houses from where the donations came, making it sort of an architectural global village. An album called Rock Aid Armenia was recorded in London, gathering names like Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath. And in Washington D.C., in 1990 a monument called Motherland was erected to remember the fraternal help to the Armenian people.
Armenia’s 1988 Earthquake Memorial Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
Even with significant help from foreign countries pouring in to help the Armenian region of Spitak, the rebuild of the cities has been slow, and some are still in the process or being rebuilt today. Not only did the earthquake leave deep wounds in the geographic region, but it also scarred the lives of many families. The day is remembered with sorrow. Radio and television stations remember the historical event, and the Armenian President visits the Spitak region, sometimes being received with indifference. Families visit their loved ones lost in the earthquake, and survivors gather with families and friends as they remember the day, sometimes honoring it with silence or concerts.