Words of grief, praise offered for Minnesotan killed in Armenia
By AVET DEMOURIAN
May 23 2004
YEREVAN, Armenia – Friends, colleagues and students shed tears and
shared words of praise at a memorial service Sunday for Joshua Haglund,
a Minnesotan who was teaching English in Armenia and was stabbed to
death in the capital Yerevan earlier this month.
About 100 people attended the ceremony in an auditorium at the
American University of Armenia. A portrait photograph of Haglund,
a 33-year-old from Shoreview, Minn., stood flanked by two burning
candles on a stand draped with black cloth, and mourners made entries
in a condolence book.
“I was fascinated with his sensibility and sense of humor. We shared
everything, good and bad,” Amelia Weir, a friend who met Haglund
on her first day in Armenia, told those assembled. “Something that
struck me – he was fully present in this life. He wanted us to be
dedicated to what we do.”
“Joshua was filled with emotion by nature, and his honesty and
decency amazed us,” said Zarui Shushanian, one of Haglund’s students
at Yerevan’s Linguistics University, where he taught under the aegis
of the U.S. State Department’s English Language Fellow program.
The U.S. deputy chief of mission in Armenia, Vivian Walker, recited
Psalm 23 from the Bible – “The Lord is my shepherd” – and an Armenian
priest, Father Ktrich Derezhian, said that Haglund had “wished people
well with all his heart, but his heart was broken.”
Haglund’s body was found in downtown Yerevan on the night of May 17,
with signs of beating and three stab wounds in his chest, Armenian
police said. An official with the Armenian Prosecutor General’s office
said on condition of anonymity that the killing had “personal motives”
and voiced hope that perpetrators could be quickly found.
Haglund had been planning to leave Armenia shortly for a trip through
Iran before returning to Minnesota for the summer. Before coming to
Armenia, a Caucasus Mountain nation that gained independence in the
1991 Soviet breakup, he had lived for extended periods in Japan,
India and Puerto Rico.