UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif.—More than 500 Homenetmen members and supporters gathered at the Universal Hilton Hotel on June 25 on the occasion of the 41st Annual Navasartian Games’ Victory Banquet. Guests gathered at the event with the pleasure of celebrating the accomplishments associated with the Navasartian Games and with respect to the 98-year old organization, which has successfully managed to assemble generations of Armenians. This year’s Navasartian Games boast California Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian and his wife, Araxie, as Honorary Presidents.
Guests in attendance included Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and Archpriest Fr. Razmig Khatchadourian; Counsellor of the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles Razmik Stepanyan; Homenetmen Central Executive Members Vicken Tavitian and Antranig Baharian; ARF Central Committee representatives Daron Der Khachadourian and Garo Ispendjian; ARS Regional Executive Vice-Chairperson Maro Papazian and Board Members; Glendale City Clerk and candidate for the California State Assembly, Ardashes Kassakhian; Honorary Presidents of the 41st Navasartian Games Mr. & Mrs. Katcho and Araxie Achadjian; Honorary Presidents of the 40th Navasartian Games Mr. & Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian; as well as previous honorary presidents, representatives of sister organizations and numerous supporters.
The evening officially commenced with a flag ceremony conducted by Homenetmen scouts. Thereafter, Ivana Krikorian, Homenetmen Ararat Chapter Scoutmaster, carried out a solo performance of the American, Armenian, and Homenetmen anthems.
Archbishop Mardirossian delivered the invocation, conveyed his blessings, and commended Homenetmen for organizing the Navasartian Games. He extended congratulatory remarks to the 2016 Honorary Presidents, Exemplary Homenetmen Member, organizing committee members, and all those in attendance for contributing to the evening’s success.
Welcoming remarks were delivered by Master of Ceremony Jack Hadjinian, Montebello City Councilmember. He stressed the ability of the organization to instill pride throughout its membership and the community and praised the Navasartian Games for its victories throughout the years. Hadjinian created an enjoyable atmosphere throughout the evening with his humor and dynamic personality.
On behalf of the Homenetmen Regional Executive, Chairperson Manuel Marselian delivered remarks, thanking guests for their continued moral and financial support of the organization. Marselian took a look back on the organization’s 98 years in existence, its mission, and pursuit of Armenian instruction with the “Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body” ideology. He proudly explained the organization’s latest achievements, including the founding of Homenetmen’s 18th chapter in Sacramento, as well as the creation of a Regional Youth Division.
Following his remarks, Chairperson Marselian announced the 2016 Exemplary Homenetmen Member, Krikor Megerian, and the 41st Navasartian Games Honorary Presidents Mr. & Mrs. Katcho and Araxie Achadjian, emphasizing their achievements. After reflecting on the organization’s responsibilities toward the Armenian nation, Marselian proudly proclaimed that the 2016 Navasartian Games have been dedicated to Artsakh, whose soldiers courageously defend the region’s borders.
The audience then closely followed and enjoyed a video presentation covering the organization’s current programs and activities.
Subsequently, the announcement of Krikor Megerian as the 2016 Exemplary Homenetmen Member was made and the audience learned of his organizational life and accomplishments. Megerian was invited to take the stage and, in recognition for his years of commitment, was presented with a plaque for this achievement by Chairperson Marselian. While Megerian received this honor, he was greeted with a standing ovation by guests.
Megerian expressed his sincere appreciation to the Homenetmen Regional Executive for bestowing him with this title and expressed, “It is an honor to be a member of Homenetmen. It entails sacrifice as we carry out work in benefit of our people and our homeland. The organization also serves as a school where our youth are able to develop and become leaders.” He added, “If the Homenetmen Baghdad Chapter educated me as an Armenian and gave me the opportunity to learn to read and write in Armenian, then the Homenetmen Ararat Chapter gave me the opportunity to gain leadership experience. The Homenetmen Regional Executive and all of the region’s chapters strengthened my leadership skills.”
Thereafter, guests learned more about the Honorary Presidents Mr. & Mrs. Katcho and Araxie Achadjian after viewing a video presentation covering their lives. The official transfer of the Honorary Presidents title was made when the prior year’s Honorary Presidents, Varant and Hoori Melkonian, passed on the tricolor ribbon to Mr. & Mrs. Katcho and Araxie Achadjian.
Katcho Achadjian greeted guests and remarked “We stand here tonight with humility and great honor, surrounded with distinguished Homenetmen members, who have been and continue to be the backbone of this community and organization.” He noted how the couple reflects on their youth as part of the Homenetmen Zahleh Chapter and Simon Vratzian Agoump in Chtora, and how they reminisce with great joy about friendships they have cultivated. “Homenetmen was like a second home for us. It provided a safe environment to gather and participate in athletics in a competitive yet healthy and enjoyable atmosphere,” explained Achadjian.
He paid special mention to transitioning their lives to the United States, “where we are accepted and not looked upon as strangers and given every opportunity to prosper and become an integral part of the fabric of American society…culturally, academically, economically, and politically,” stated Achadjian. He continued, “We also have bigger responsibilities to enrich, nurture, and preserve our culture, our language and identity. And what better way to achieve those responsibilities than by helping our Armenian community at large and Homenetmen, in particular.”
In his concluding remarks, Achadjian affirmed that Homenetmen, through its athletic and scouting programs, embraces the Armenian youth, nourishes friendships, and provides an environment for upcoming generations to belong to something bigger than themselves and to be part of an important mission.
Araxie Achadjian also delivered remarks, stating “As we say ‘Elevate Yourself and Others with You’, therefore, all of us are part of a much larger purpose, which is to ensure our youth have the same family values, ethics, love of their heritage and culture. We owe it to our ancestors, who paid a dear price for protecting our identity. There is an incredible force in unity, we all need to support Homenetmen individually and collectively. We need to support the board, the staff, the volunteers, the athletes, and the scouts. Their success is our pride, their success is our victory.”
After the end of the official program, guests enjoyed performances by Haibert and DJ Eddie O, and left in anticipation of the impending Navasartian four-day festival, finals games, and closing ceremony throughout June 30-July 3.