Diaspora communities celebrate Armenia day
Published: Friday November 11, 2011
Presidents Sarkozy and Sargsyan during Paris concert. Jean Eckian
Leaders of the Armenian-American community and members of Armenia’s diplomatic corps were honored with presidential medals for their service to the Republic of Armenia on its 20th anniversary of independence during a banquet held to welcome Armenia’s President Serge Sargsyan to New York on September 23.
Among the award recipients were Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern); Berge Setrakian, President of the Armenian General Benevolent Fund; Rita Balian, the founder of the Armenian American Cultural Association (AACA); Ambassador Tatoul Markarian, Armenia’s Ambassador to the United States; and Ambassador Garen Nazarian, Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
In his remarks, President Sargsyan noted that Armenians in Armenia and in the diaspora are united not only by a shared history, but also by the realities of the present and aspirations for the future. “The future of a flourishing and blossoming Armenia is a joint dream that we have to realize together through our combined efforts,” he said.
The President stressed that the task of building up an independent Armenia is still in its early stages, and that much remains to be done to ensure the prosperity and security of the young nation. He added that despite voices of doubt, it is imperative to commit to the project of statehood undertaken two decades ago, and encouraged the diaspora community to continue its participation in that project.
“We can’t have the Armenia of our dreams without the efforts and contributions of diasporan Armenians,” he said. “On the other hand, we can’t have a diaspora that is productively preserving its national identity and language without the backing of a homeland that is recognized on the global stage.”
Following his remarks, the President presented awards to the evening’s honorees, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Armenia’s independence.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian received the “Medal for Service and Contribution to the Motherland” in recognition of his many years of service to the Armenian Church and of his contributions to preserving national and spiritual values.
Berge Setrakian received an “Order of Honor” for his service to the homeland and his enduring commitment to the Armenian people.
Rita Balian was recognized with the “Mkhitar Heratsi Medal” for her work in the development of health care in Armenia. The Armenian American Cultural Association she founded runs the Armenian American Wellness Center (AAWC) for mammography screening and other health care services in Yerevan.
Ambassadors Tatoul Markarian and Garen Nazarian both received the “Mkhitar Gosh Medal” for their contributions to diplomacy and work on the international stage.
President Obama issued the following statement on the occasion of Armenian National Day on September 21:
On behalf of the American people, I want to extend my best wishes to all those who are celebrating Armenian National Day-in Armenia, in the United States and around the world. This 20th anniversary of independence, and Armenia’s achievements during this time, show the progress that is possible when people are free to determine their own destiny. Here in the United States, we are grateful for the Armenian Americans who enrich our national life every day and who help sustain the strong and growing relationship between our two countries.
Greater Boston community marks Armenia’s independence
On September 25 the Cambridge Yerevan Sister City Association (CYSCA) hosted a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Armenian Independence, in collaboration with the Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF), Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA), Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA), and National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). The event was held at the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church on Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA.
CYSCA chairwoman Cheryl Shushan opened the program welcoming the guests and introducing the evening’s mistress of ceremonies, past Massachusetts state representative and Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles, Rachel Kaprielian. Father Vazgen Kouzouian of Holy Trinity church followed with a prayer, in both English and Armenian, blessing the event’s participants, Armenia and its people, Armenia’s government officials, Armenia’s clergy, and members of the Armenian armed forces. The Lord’s prayer (Hayr Mer) was sung by the Arlington – Belmont Chorale led by director Barry Singer and accompanied on the piano by Michael Becker. In her opening comments Rachel Kaprielian observed that, what was a dream 20 years ago is today a reality – an Independent Republic of Armenia. Also present was Reverend Avedis Boynerian, pastor of the Armenian Memorial Church.
Cambridge’s Mayor, David Maher, in his comments congratulated both CYSCA for its work, and Armenia for its achievements during a difficult 20 years of independence. He stressed that he takes seriously Cambridge’s relation with Yerevan.
Also giving brief remarks were three State Representatives, all of whom represent portions of Cambridge – Alice Wolf, Jonathan Hecht and Will Brownsberger. Alice Wolf recalled the official CYSCA delegation she led in 1988 when she was then Vice Mayor of Cambridge, and Armenia was still under Soviet rule. Jonathan Hecht, who now holds Rachael Kaprielian’s old seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, congratulated the Armenian community. While acknowledging the difficulties Armenia has and continues to face, he expressed confidence that the Armenian people, including the Diaspora, will continue building a democratic, equitable, and prosperous society in Armenia.
The keynote speaker was Armenia’s first Ambassador to the United States (1993-1999) since Armenia’s first republic (1918-1921), Ambassador Rouben Shougarian. Ambassador Shougarian is currently a professor at Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Previous positions include senior staff membership in the Armenian National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, diplomatic posts to Italy, Spain, and Portugal, as well as Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister from 1999 to 2005.
The program was interspersed with two wonderfully done performances of Armenian music by the Arlington – Belmont Chorale, including music by Alan Hovhaness, Gomidas, Alexander Haroutunian, Edgar Hovhannisian, and Aram Khachaturian. Following the formal part of the program a reception was held with delicacies donated by many CYSCA supporters and collaborating organizations.
CYSCA expressed its thanks to supporting organizations including the ACF, the AGBU, AIWA, ALMA, and NAASR. Individuals and businesses who generously supported this event include the Atinizian Family Foundation, Jonathan Hecht, Harry and Hripsime Parsekian, Jack Achmakjian, Avedis and Houry Boyamian, Vartkes and Elissa Karaian, Jack and Eva Medzorian, Neil and Elinor Olken, Jacob Pilibosian, Peter and Helen Smith, Carolyn Atinizian, Mary Goudsouzian, Lynne Kanaian, Ruth Medzorian-Falletti, Barbara Merguerian, Suzanne Moranian, Olga Proudian, Rose Zartarian, Arax Market, Eastern Lamejun, Masis Bakery, Sevan Bakery, and David Medzorian Video. Special thanks were offered to Arax Badalian and her committee for their work in making this event a success.