‘Unity is Our Strength’ Gains Momentum in Orange County

Armenian Genocide Tent at JWW Walk to End Genocide

Community Remembers the Genocide and Renews Commitment to Fight for Justice

ORANGE COUNTY—On April 21 the Armenian community of Orange County commemorated the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, remembered the victims of this tragedy as well as the heroes that fought against the Ottoman forces and saved thousands, and renewed its commitment to continue the struggle for justice for the Armenian people. Three separate yet coordinated events took place: The AYF and ANCA-OC participated in the Walk to End Genocide in Fountain Valley, Professor Richard Hovhannisian presented a lecture about Smyrna/Izmir at St. Mary Armenian Church in Costa Mesa, and the “Unity is Our Strength” commemoration took place in Gugasian Hall at Forty Martyrs Armenian Church in Santa Ana.

AYF Ashod Yergat and ANCA-OC at Walk to End Genocide
The Armenian Youth Federation Ashod Yergat chapter spearheaded the effort to be a presence at the “Walk to End Genocide” held at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley. The annual event is organized by the Jewish World Watch (JWW) and takes place in various locations including Los Angeles and Orange County where the AYF made sure the Armenian Genocide was properly presented.

The event included a series of tents representing a timeline of the genocides in the twentieth century, where each tent was dedicated to a specific genocidal campaign. The first tent in the series represented the Armenian Genocide and included numerous pictures and articles describing the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire explaining how the tragic events of 1915 unfolded. There was also information about current events as they relate to the Armenian Genocide. The remaining tents represented the Holocaust, Darfur and other genocides of this century.

In addition to the informational tents prepared by the organizers, the AYF had its own table where they passed out flyers and pamphlets about the Armenian Genocide, brochures about the Genocide Education Project, and issues of Haytoug, the official publication of the AYF. In its continued efforts to raise awareness and attain justice for the Armenian people the AYF will continue to work closely with JWW and represent the Armenian community at this annual event.

Prof. Richar Hovannisian addresses the community at St. Mary's church

Dr. Richard Hovannisian Lecture at St. Mary Armenian Church
Archpriest Fr. Moushegh Tashjian led an emotional candlelight service commemorating the 98th anniversary of the Armenian genocide at St. Mary Armenian church. After his moving sermon the congregation gathered at Fesjian Hall for a memorable event organized by the Cultural Committee, which was sponsored by the Zorayan family. The hall was filled to capacity and the attentive audience carefully listened to Dr. Richard Hovannisian, Professor Emeritus at UCLA, explain the Smyrna/Izmir catastrophe. He spoke in both Armenian and English as he introduced the history of the region and gave a detailed account of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s campaign of ethnic cleansing in the region. He detailed the Turkish military’s role in raping, looting and murdering the Christian population then setting the city on fire, all while allied ships were anchored in the harbor refusing to help. Dr. Hovannisian also highlighted the important cultural contributions of Armenians from that region, especially in the development of Armenian education and publishing.

“Unity is Our Strength” Commemoration organized by ANCA-OC

Gugasian hall at Forty Martyrs Armenian Church was standing room only where over 450 community members attended the “Unity is Our Strength” commemoration organized by the Armenian National Committee of America Orange County Chapter (ANCA-OC), with the participation of all the community organizations, institutions, and both churches.

Archpriest Fr. Moushegh Tashjian opened the ceremonies with a prayer for the victims of the genocide, followed by opening remarks by ANCA-OC executive board member Talar Malakian who welcomed the community and representatives from all the organizations. The AGBU Manoogian Demirjian School students performed “Vocies from the Genocide,” an original and very moving play with dramatic dance pieces showing the impacts of the Genocide on the many generations of Armenians since 1915, including those who survived and their grandchildren growing up in the United States. The students from A.G. Minassian Armenian School presented a series of poems including a powerful rendition of Baruyr Sevag’s “we are few, but we are Armenian.” The program also included musical performances, speeches, and videos.

UCI student, Hasmik Piliposyan sang a very emotional version of “Adanayi Godoradzu.” Green K.A.R.D. comprised of AYF Ashod Yergat chapter members performed a three song set, including an original piece titled. Ayline performed an amazing acoustical set  which included “Adanayi Godoradzu,” “Pari Aragil,” “Gaboudig,” and “Mardigi Yerku.” She was accompanied by Greg Hosharian on piano and Kevork Rosdomian on percussions. Greg Hosharian performed a solo set on piano including a piece from Sayat Nova and an original work titled “lilayk.” He then sang while playing the piano in another original piece titled “Struggle,” where he was joined by Aylin and Greg Miller on guitar and Kevork Rosdomian on percussions. The final musical act for the evening was Armenian Public Radio who performed “Ambets Gorav Lousngav,” “Hayasdan Ashkhar,” “Odaroutiun Ayskan Darov,” and “Kele, Kele, Kelkit Mernem.”

Armine Mardirosian and Garineh Malkasian spoke on behalf of the Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO) and in remembering Hrant Dink declared that the Armenian people will continue the fight to secure the recognition of the genocide. Kevork Madenlian spoke on behalf of the AYF “Aghpiur Serop” Juniors and described the atrocities committed against the Armenian population, during which the heroic “fedayees” (freedom fighters) sacrificed their lives to save thousands and secured the existence of the Armenian race. He went on to explain that the AYF Juniors prepares well educated and informed youth who will continue the struggle for justice including the liberation of Western Armenia.

AYF “Ashod Yergat” representative, Shant Meguerditchian echoed the “Unity is Our Strength” motto for the evening and pronounced that together as one unified nation we are all responsible to the martyrs and as such the AYF will continue to carry the torch of justice. He went on to explain how we also have a duty to ensure that genocides do not take place against any group of people around the world. Lori Khajadourian, ANC-OC executive board member, reiterated the mission of the ANCA and called on everyone to join together and work towards “Hye Tahd,” emphasizing that this struggle does not begin or end on April 24th, but that it’s an ongoing battle every single day of the year.

Participating organizations in the “Unity is Our Strength” program: ACYO, AGBU Orange County Saturday School, A.G. Minassian Armenian School, ARF Armen Karo Gomideh, ARS Karni chapter and Saturday School, ARS Sevan chapter and Saturday school, AYF Ashod Yergat, AYF Aghpiur Serop Juniors, Forty Martyrs Armenian Church, Hamazkayin Siamanto, Homenetmen Sardarabad, Orange County Armenian Professional Society (OCAPS), St. Mary Armenian Church, and UCI Armenian Students Association (ASA).

Up next in Orange County – Annual Armenian Independence Day Celebration on May 28, 2013 at Gugasian Hall featuring Karnig Sarkissian. For more information and reservations visit the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/167716680057389/ or contact Allise Panosyan at (714)273-7975

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