J. Michael Hagopian, Armenia


Age: 97 -- Birthplace: Kharpert, Western Armenia

Dr. Hagopian established the Armenian Film Foundation to Preserve Armenian Culture and Heritage, compiling 400 interviews with genocide survivors and witnesses. His life's work spans over 40 years and is part of the Shoah Foundation's library. At the time of this interview, the twice-nominated Academy Award documentary filmmaker was the world's oldest living survivor of the Armenian Genocide.

People create their own gods…God is not vengeful. People are vengeful hence war and violence.

[For a long life], create active and stimulating challenges for your mind.

I have not experienced great sorrow.

Whatever your ambitions, make them your best, keep climbing and achieving. The success of our civilization is based on achievement. Be true to yourself and be honest.

[In America] there is opportunity, less caste and social strata. Our political behavior has been criticized as juvenile, find more freedom in this country than most. At the age of nine, and still in the old country, I believed the streets in America were paved with gold.

I fear death... I can't conceive of it. My wish is to quietly pass in my sleep.