MONTEBELLO—Asbarez Newspaper marked its 105th anniversary on Sunday, October 20 during a banquet at the Baghramian Hall with 500 community members gathered to honor past editor of the English Section Serge Samoniantz, who also was presented with the St. Mesrob Mashdots Medal from His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia.
Taking the stage to accept his honor, Samoniantz, who by nature is a humble and professional journalist said that what he has done throughout his life and career was serve the community and the Armenian Cause.
He added that while he shies away from the limelight, he was grateful to the Asbarez Editorial Board for the honor. In his remarks, he also thanked his mentors, former Asbarez Editor Kristapor Pakradouni, who he said guided him during his early years at Asbarez, and Harut Sassounian, the publisher of the California Courier and Samoniatz’s current employer, for being his trusted friend for decades.
Samoniantz also stressed that while there are moments that the community pauses to mark milestones, there is great work to be done and urged the community to continue and heed the daily challenges facing the Armenian nation.
He also thanked his wife of more than four decades, Mariam Samoniantz, for being his rock and encouragement and serving the Armenian Cause by his side.
Before presenting the Encyclical and the St. Mesrob Mashdots Medal, Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian highlighted and emphasized the important role Asbarez plays in the daily life of the Armenian-American community.
The Prelate then spoke of Samoniantz’s contribution to the advancement of the Armenian press, and through it, the aspirations of the Armenian nation.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee Chairman Dr. Viken Hovsepian said that being the lone daily publication in North America came with its own share of responsibilities and challenges, acknowledging the work and dedication of the Asbarez staff for their daily contributions to advancing Asbarez.
He also highlighted the role Asbarez plays in the international arena, outlining the publication’s unique place in the present-day Armenian reality.
Hovsepian then congratulated Samoniantz for his decades of service to the Armenian-American community, highlighting the role he has played in elevating Asbarez.
The mood was festive as representatives of community organizations, schools and other institutions joined Asbarez supporters, contributors and friends to mark this milestone, at a time when our community is seeing its rich trove of newspapers and magazine dwindle as a result of the realities facing the industry both within the mainstream and community media.
As slides of the fist year editions of Asbarez looped on four large screen at Baghramian Hall, Asbarez Armenian Editor Apo Boghigan described the publication’s most recent effort to digitize and make available to the public the 105-year-old archives of the newspaper. He detailed the plans and thanked the individuals who had heeded the editorial board’s call for supporting this venture through their generous donations.
Boghigan also stressed the critical role the community organizations and individuals play in Asbarez’s longevity and commended the paper’s readers, advertisers and supporters for not abandoning this center-piece of the Armenian community.
Asbarez English Editor Ara Khachatourian spoke of the space Asbarez has occupied in the Armenian reality, which goes beyond the boundaries of Southern California and the Western Region, saying that every day the staff of the publications strives to advance the mission that was set forth in 1908 by Asbarez’s founders.
Khachatourian also thanked the Montebello community for playing host to the event, highlighting the critical role that community has played in shaping the Armenian-American story and legacy.
He also paused to remember Asbarez collaborator and former Assistant Editor Allen Yekikian who, along with his wife Sose Thomassian-Yekikian, died in a tragic car accident in Georgia. Khachatourian said that much of what readers saw while vising Asbarez’s online platforms was Yekikian’s vision and pledged to honor the couple’s legacy by advancing the newspaper to greater heights.
Before the conclusion of the program, former Asbarez editors who were in the audience were invited to help cut the birthday cake. They included Kristapor Pakradouni, John Kossakian, Sarkisk Ghazarian and Rafi Shouboukian, who were joined by Samoniantz, Boghigian and Khachatourian to mark this milestone.
The evening’s festivities continued with musical performances by the Hosharian Band.