Homenetmen’s 40th Navasartian Athletic Games whose Honorary Presidents were well-known Homenetmen members, community activists and benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian, officially came to a close on Sunday, July 5.
The closing ceremony began at 5 p.m. on the field of Birmingham High School with the presence of thousands of supporters and more than 3,000 athletes.
The American, Armenian, and Homenetmen flags were presented on the field and the start of the closing ceremony created much interest among attendees. The event MC’s were Nora Tchaparian and Toukhman Khachadourian, who invited His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Honorary Presidents Varant and Hoori Melkonian, Exemplary Homenetmen Member Jirair Sarkissian, and Regional Executive Chairperson Manuel Marselian to the honorary guests platform, while accompanied by Regional Executive members. Guests then observed a moment of silence for the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide, whose memory the Navasartian Games were dedicated.
Since 2015 marked the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s 125th anniversary, event speakers extended congratulatory remarks on the occasion of this anniversary due to the fact that for 97 years, the ARF has firmly believed in Homenetmen’s mission and offers its backing to the organization’s activities and objectives.
After receiving consent from Regional Executive Chairperson Manuel Marselian to officially begin the closing ceremony, Homenetmen Ararat Chapter Scoutmaster Shant Mirzayan initiated the start of the flag ceremony. Homenetmen flag bearers marched onto the field with the American, Armenian, Artsakh, State of California, Homenetmen, and Navasartian flags, led by the Homenetmen marching band, which played the American, Armenian, and Homenetmen anthems.
Following the flag ceremony, the official guests were announced, including Vice Consul of Armenia Valeri Mkrtumyan; Homenetmen Central Executive Members Hagop Tufenkjian and Vicken Tavitian; ARF Central Committee representative Dr. Vicken Hovsepian; ARS Regional Executive Board Co-Chairperson Maral Matossian and Member Aida Babayan; ANCA Western Region Board Member Steve Artinian; Homenetmen Lebanon Regional Executive Member Vatche Zadourian; Honorary Presidents of the 39th Navasartian Games Bedig and Maro Fermanian; Ardashes Kassakhian, Glendale City Clerk and candidate for the 43rd California State Assembly; Garo Ghazarian, Esq., Co-Chairperson of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee; Burbank School Board Member Armond Aghakhani; previous honorary presidents and exemplary Homenetmen members; representatives of various organizations, members and supporters.
After the announcement of guests, a cycling team led by previous Navasartian Games Honorary President Vache Soghomonian took to the field.
Thereafter, Glendale City Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian delivered remarks and congratulated the honorary president and Exemplary Homenetmen Member, both of whom have been devoted to Homenetmen. Kassakhian commended the organizing efforts of the Navasartian Games, which has been made possible for the past 40 years through dedicated volunteers, and assured that the Navasartian Athletic Games would continue on for another 40 years.
Homenetmen Regional Executive’s remarks were delivered by Chairperson Manuel Marselian, who congratulated all the athletes, scouts, volunteers, supporters, and donors, who are vital to the success of the Navasartian Games. Marselian noted that Homenetmen’s success over the past 97 years stems from its mission. The organization helps prepare exemplary youth, who are given keys to success in life and, at the same time, remain tied to Armenian traditions and the community. He stressed that the organization’s successes rely in large part to the dedicated volunteers and donors, who help make various programs and activities a reality.
Marselian further explained that the organization’s long road of success is credited in large part to mentors and the older generation, a prime example of which is this year’s Exemplary Homenetmen Member Jirair Sarkissian.
Thereafter, he gave special mention to the Navasartian Games Honorary Presidents Varant and Hoori Melkonian, who have served and supported the organization as members throughout the years.
Marselian expressed thanks to all those, who continue to support Homenetmen, and pledged that the organization would continue to serve the Armenian people and cause.
The Central Executive’s remarks were delivered by Board Member Hagop Tufenkjian, who addressed the audience and referred to Homenetmen as an army of volunteers, which instructs youth to be dedicated Armenians ready to sacrifice for the Armenian people and homeland. He stressed that a healthy and strong Diaspora is essential to helping Armenia, the Armenian people, and cause.
He affirmed that Homenetmen members belong not only to an organization founded by Shavarsh Krissian and Hovhannes Hintlian, but with their beliefs and national pride they remain tied to the organization, whose national heroes include Aram Manoukian and Rostom, and remain the descendents of those, who were prepared to sacrifice everything in the name of the Armenian people and homeland.
Tufenkjian then called upon all those in attendance to entrust their children to Homenetmen, which will turn them into youth that is full of awareness regarding Armenian issues.
The final remarks of the official program were delivered by Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, who conveyed his blessings and gave mention to the fact that it creates much enthusiasm to see more and more youth participate in the Navasartian Games with each passing year. After commending the efforts of the event organizers, participants, the honorary president, and exemplary Homenetmen member, Archbishop Mardirossian reflected upon the fact that the 40th Navasartian Games coincide with the Armenian Genocide Centennial. He noted that every athlete and scout in participation is a testament to the slogan that “We Remember and We Demand.”
Following these remarks, Homenetmen Fresno “Sassoun” Chapter member Roupen Hamamjian sang “Kini Lits,” creating passion among attendees. Thereafter, the march of Homenetmen Western Region’s 17 chapters’ scouts and athletes began with great spirit. Alongside their trophies, chapters and teams held banners in support of our noble causes, including “America We Thank You for Assisting Armenian Genocide Survivors,” “We Shall Never Abandon Aleppo,” “Glory to our Fallen Soldiers for Artsakh,” and “Thanks to the Armenian Army.”
The Homenetmen San Francisco Chapter had a special banner congratulating Jirair Sarkissian for being named the Exemplary Homenetmen Member. His grandson, Shant Kilijian, placed the scouting tricolor necktie around his neck. The Massis Chapter also expressed appreciation through a banner for the newly built Jirair and Serpoug Sarkissian gym.
The Homenetmen Los Angeles Chapter marched with a banner bearing the photo of Honorary Presidents Varant and Hoori Melkonian, who are members of their chapter, and presented them with the Homenetmen emblem handcrafted by member Vartkes Panossian.
The closing ceremony ended with the presentation of the Navasartian flag to Honorary Presidents Varant and Hoori Melkonian.
Following the ceremony, the Navasartian festival continued with much enthusiasm and a cheerful atmosphere, as it had done for the previous three days.