Free To Love Speech

Free To Love Speech

72 LLR - Lillet, Linda playing tavlee

Version 1.1

February 19, 2018

Presented by
Linda Iggy Dean

Free To Love Speech


Picture of Linda in 1973.

This speech uses the storytelling technique to make a point. It is a story of an 1st generation Armenian American growing up in Detroit in the 1960s. Written for the Toastmasters International Speech Contest August 2018. 5 to 7 minutes. It must stand on its own. Introduction is:

Linda Iggy Dean, Free To Love, Free To Love, Linda Iggy Dean.



Dressed like a village girl in blue jeans, belly dancing belt, wrist handkerchief, Kinda skip with left arm up to Shake hands with right.

I am immigrant Roupen’s daughter. I am an Armenian born in Detroit Michigan. Armenians came to America for a better life, however, the Armenians that came during World War I were fleeing to survive a slaughter. My mom’s family came then. My dad was carried out as an infant by his young mother and her brothers. Roupen’s father Hovannes was killed in a church, thinking he was being drafted into the Army.

Roupen came from Baghdad Iraq. He was a pharmacist. He found a wife, Rosie, and they married in 1954. He wanted his family to be free.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a story about my parents. It’s for anyone who loves freedom and wants the freedom to love. America used to be the land of the free, but she has lost her way. It’s a shame because real people want Real freedom.


My mom had beautiful brown eyes, a kind heart and a sense of humor. Mom was always cooking. She made mouth-watering pilaf, chicken and fresh carrots every Sunday. Her secret was capturing the chicken broth to put in the pilaf for the next week. She also made fresh yogurt from a gallon of milk and a cup of last weeks yogurt. Yes, dad ate it up and lived to be 90. PAUSE maybe HA.

My nicknames were Little Rosie, chicken or pil-ah-gee (which means lover of pilaf.) My job was to make the salad and my dad grew the vegetables in his garden. I chopped, peeled, and diced. He planted parsley, onions and tomatoes. I spent hours pulling the weeds from the parsley. I lost myself in the calm of the garden. I still love the feeling of dirt on my hands. I became an Ayurvedic vegan so now I prefer fruits, nuts, and pilaf with vegetable broth. HA

If I had been raised in Armenia, I might have lived on a vineyard picking grapes and breathing fresh air. Instead, I was in the Motor City breathing exhaust fumes and dancing to Michael Jackson. DANCE

My parents introduced me to music. My mom played her 78 (speed) records on her console record player and my dad sang in the choir. When I was 3, I fell in love with Louie Armstrong and his trumpet. I wanted to be just like him. I got to play the trumpet in 3rd grade. My bedroom was off the dining room. No one cared for my practicing after dinner. HA HA

We moved from Detroit that year shortly after the Detroit riots in 1967. Rev King had been killed and so did my step-grandfather in his dry-cleaning store. We stopped going to church. I found my way to God in a Methodist church. I learned singing posture to Amazing Grace. I learned the Armenian Yerevan song,



It means, Yerevan, capital of Armenian, became my Erebuni (Fortress)You are my new divine, my new Ani. (capital in the 5th century)

147 words “Ani is a ruined medieval Armenian city now situated in Turkey’s province of Kars, next to the closed border with Armenia. Called the “City of 1001 Churches”,[7][10][11] Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world.[12][13] At its height, the population of Ani probably was on the order of 100,000.[14][15]

Long ago renowned for its splendor and magnificence, Ani was sacked by the Mongols in 1236 and devastated in a 1319 earthquake, after which it was reduced to a village and gradually abandoned and largely forgotten by the seventeenth century.[16][15] Ani is a widely recognized cultural, religious, and national heritage symbol for Armenians.[17] According to Razmik Panossian, Ani is one of the most visible and ‘tangible’ symbols of past Armenian greatness and hence a source of pride.”[15 (2,Wikipedia)


My dad grew up in Baghdad Iraq. He finished high school but was denied entrance into college. When a Muslim man didn’t show up for pharmacy school, Roupen’s Uncle Yervant slide him into the program.

Roupen wanted more in life, he wanted freedom, so he came to America when he was 37. He repeated college and married Rosie Paulian in Detroit. Rosie was the first in her generation to graduate college.


My brother John Iguidbashian and I are products of Detroit. John, who passed out at the sight of blood in biology class, became a pediatric heart surgeon. He treats baby hearts in Portland Oregon. John has 3 Iguidbashian children.

I grew up watching my dad fix toasters. I fetched tools and learned how to take things apart. I thank my dad for my engineering genes and my love of dirt. HA I have a beautiful daughter who is also an engineer, no broken toasters except for me. HA


Armenians are unusual. We are the disciples of the Jesus’ apostles. My dad knew Turkish, Arabic, Armenian and German. He would spit at the window if a driver cuts him off. My mom taught me how to swear like an Armenian sailor. HA HA

It’s challenging being an immigrant. Too often in America, you are seen through lenses of hatred. Being an Armenian, I lost my homeland one hundred and 3 years ago. In America, I found the Unity church. We believe in Love. Some say Armenians cannot be killed because our eyes are on heaven. We will always walk this earth because we are free. We can all be free to Love.

956 –147 – ~20 words is~780 words



(1) Yeravan Song words and music. Retrieved Feb 15, 2018 from

(2) The city of Ani Turkey. Retrieved Feb 15, 2018 from

Published by Linda Iggy Dean

Writer, Armenian, bipolar, Engineer, Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM), Ayurveda follower, MBA graduate of Walsh College in Troy Michigan in 2014. Mother/stepmother of five. Iggy The Writer is a collection of speeches, opinions and history.

One thought on “Free To Love Speech

  1. I haven’t been keeping up. I see you have been busy that’s great. Liked this story, you added some to it.


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