Marks the milestone with tribute to 95th Anniversary of Armenia’s First Republic
GLENDALE—The theme of the evening was the resilience of the Armenian people and the occasion was the 95th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia, May 28, 1918. The date of the event and its significance to all those in attendance on May 28, 2013, was the sheer will, heroism and determination of the Armenian nation, having risen like a phoenix from the despair of Genocide perpetrated against its people by the Ottoman and Young Turks, replete with deportations and dispossession of its ancestral, centuries-old homeland of Western Armenia.
The location of the anniversary tribute – the Phoenicia Restaurant in Glendal -was at full capacity and infused with an aura of accomplishment and appreciation.
The Armenian Bar, just days after its 24th Annual Meeting and Conference in San Diego, California, ushered in its 25th year with a consensus of deep meaning and continuing purpose.
In attendance were the heads of the Western Diocese and Prelacy, Archbishops Hovnan Derderian and Moushegh Mardirossian, respectively, the latter blessing the commencement of the evening’s proceedings and the former making his remarks, touching upon the epic Battle of Sardarabad.
Chairman Ex Officio Edvin Minassian was the evening’s master of ceremonies. His poignant remarks reflected the commitment and depth of the Armenian Bar’s resolve to be an agent of activism as the centennial of the Armenian Genocide approaches. Minassian declared, “As we commemorate, we should never settle for anything less than the vision of the founders of the First Republic. It is our solemn duty to build and maintain a flourishing, free and democratic Armenia, resting firmly on the fundamental principles of social justice.”
Chairman Garo Ghazarian spoke briefly about the First Republic and elucidated its being ahead of its time, having, for example, women in its Parliament at a time when women did not even have the basic right to vote in the United States. Ghazarian also paused to reflect on the First Republic having a woman ambassador to Japan – Ms. Diana Abkar. He then introduced Armenian Bar member and Co- Chair of the ANCA – WR, Nora Hovsepian, Esq., to make her remarks.
Hovsepian spoke knowingly and in appreciation of the First Republic among whose unparalleled progressivism and modernity included being the first in the history of the world’s nations to ever appoint a woman to represent a sovereign nation as its ambassador. Her speech was a call to continued and sustained efforts to keep the vision of the founders of the First Republic alive and in effect today.
Before the evening’s keynote address, there were very special performances made by virtuoso Salpi Kerkonian on flute, Chamlian Armenian School 6th Graders reciting ” We are Armenians,” and the legendary singer Harout Pamboukjian, unplugged and sensational on guitar.
With recitations of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If,” and its Armenian translation “Yete” by Mousheh Ishkhan, Chairman Ghazarian invited Raffi K. Hovannisian to deliver his Keynote address.
Hovannisian, the founding father of the Armenian Bar Association, delivered a moving and captivating address steeped in the virtues of national unity and the imperatives of returning humanity to those in government and true respect for the common man, woman and child.. He called upon the attendees to not settle for being spectators and critics, but to be engaged and to shed cynicism in favor of constructive steps to strengthen the homeland and the Diaspora. He made it known that when it comes to the survival of a nation, less is not more, and the more involved and engaged we are as Armenians, the greater the likelihood of being able to overcome together the challenges which our landlocked homeland faces today.
The event was attended by a diverse cross-section of the Armenian-American community in Southern California, as well as non-Armenian dignitaries, including Los Angeles City Attorney-Elect, Mike Feuer, and long-time Los Angeles County Sheriff and a frequent participant in Armenian Bar events, Leroy Baca.
In the closing remarks of the evening, Armen K. Hovannisian–past Chairman and current Vice Chair of the Association–aptly invited all to join the efforts of the Armenian Bar to move mountains, away from parochial divisions and towards consensus and solidarity. With the indomitable spirit of independence of May 28, 1918 as guide and inspiration, Armenians worldwide will ensure full and complete engagement for the Centennial Commemoration of April 24, 2015, and beyond.