VAN NUYS—Homenetmen’s 41st Annual Navasartian Games came to a grand end on Sunday, July 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Birmingham High School with large community-wide support.
Led by chapter scoutmasters, Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Honorary Presidents Mr. & Mrs. Katcho and Araxie Achadjian, Exemplary Homenetmen Member Krikor Megerian and his wife, Armineh, and Regional Executive Chairperson Manuel Marselian took their seats on the honorary platform at the start of the closing ceremony. Official guests at the event included Counsellor of the Consulate General of Armenia in Los Angeles Razmik Stepanyan; Homenetmen Central Executive Members Viggen Davidian and Antranig Baharian; ARF Western US Central Committee chairman Daron Der Khachadourian; ARS Regional Executive Vice-Chairperson Maro Papazian; Glendale City Clerk and candidate for the California State Assembly, Ardashes Kassakhian; and Burbank Police Lieutenant Eric Deroian. Former honorary presidents, exemplary members, representatives of various organizations, members, athletes, and supporters also filled the stands.
The American and Armenian flags were presented onto the field before the thousands of spectatators while the Masters of Ceremony Souzy Ohanian (Armenian) and Arman Kilijian (English) invited attendees to observe a moment of silence for the fallen soldiers of the recent Four-Day War in Artsakh.
After receiving consent from Chairperson Marselian to officially begin the closing ceremony, Regional Scoutmaster Sharlene Gozalian initiated the start of the flag ceremony. Homenetmen scouts marched onto the field bearing the American, Armenian, Artsakh, Australian, California, Homenetmen, and Navasartian flags, as directed by Homenetmen Sipan Chapter Scoutmaster Talar Kalstian. Thereafter, the American, Armenian and Homenetmen anthems played by the Homenetmen marching band.
Following the anthems, the Homenetmen scouting division took to the field. Upon halting before the honorary platform and spectators, they portrayed the Armenian and Artsakh flags, confirming that the organization remains faithful to the “We are Artsakh” slogan. This display brought in loud applause by the audience.
Chairperson Marselian appeared before spectators and extended utmost appreciation to the hundreds of volunteers, who sacrifice their time and effort to contribute to the success of the Navasartian Games. He also expressed sincere thanks to Homenetmen’s donors and supporters, who continuously support the organization and play a significant role in the success of its activities. “As the largest Armenian organization in the Diaspora, and certainly the largest on the West Coast, Homenetmen is given the responsibility to take care of and develop our community’s youth. We understand our social and civic responsibilities both locally and to our Homeland. In that breath, the 41st Navasartian Games have been dedicated to the people of Artsakh, along with our brave soldiers, who sacrifice and risk their lives on a daily basis. We salute the independent Republic of Artsakh and its courageous people,” declared Marselian.
After acknowledging the 2016 Exemplary Homenetmen Member Krikor Megerian and the 41st Annual Navasartian Games Honorary Presidents Katcho and Araxie Achadjian, Chairperson Marselian proudly announced the establishment of a new regional youth division, which will help better foster young adults to become the future leaders of the organization and community, as well as the newest addition to Homenetmen in the Western Region, the Homenetmen Sacramento Lori Chapter.
The Homenetmen Central Executive’s message was delivered by representative Vicken Tavitian, who stressed that Homenetmen is present in 20 countries with 100 chapters and 28,000 members. While outlining various difficulties the organization deals with, he affirmed “We are able to overcome these challenges with dedication to our mission and the resolve to achieve our objectives, as this 98 year old organization prepares for its second century.”
Tavitian continued, “We are strong because we never claim that Homenetmen is perfect. We always try to improve, recognizing that this is all based on volunteer work, cooperation and huge personal sacrifices.” He went on to invite attendees to join the organization to help its growth and help it be the best it can be, not only during the Navasartian weekend, yet year round. He concluded by stressing, “We have to make a real effort to ensure our young leaders are the ones to take the helm of our organization and guide it into our second century. This is our promise and we are confident that they will.”
Thereafter, Archbishop Mardirossian conveyed his blessings and noted that the closing ceremony coincides with the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (also known as Vardavar). He went on to describe the triumph one experiences when witnessing the Homenetmen flag waving and its anthem playing. Referring to the proclamation by His Holiness Catholic Aram I declaring 2016 as the “Year of Service,” Archbishop Mardirossian stated, “As we have gathered here as members of one family, with a spirit of love, unity, and brotherhood, let us work together always, in that same spirit, to ensure a brighter future for our homeland, for our people, and for our brethren in Artsakh and Syria especially.” The Prelate concluded with wishes of continued success to Homenetmen in carrying out its mission of cultivating youth to become exemplary Armenians.
Following official remarks, the much-anticipated march ensued and spectators witnessed the newly established Regional Youth Division, the Homenetmen Australia “Ararat” Chapter athletes, the newly established Sacramento Lori Chapter, as well as athletes and scouts from the region’s 17 chapters, committees and members walk the field led by their respective chapter executive members and greeted enthusiastically by the audience.
The official program drew to an end with performances by renowned singer Harout Pamboukjian, as he entertained attendees who enthusiastically joined him in song and dance, celebrating the vast victories of the Navasartian Games.
Following the ceremony, the final day of the Navasartian festival continued and performances by talented artists contributed to a lively atmosphere on the grounds.