With a Focus on Youth, ARF Western US Celebrates 128th Anniversary

VIEW GALLERY: More than 100 AYF Juniors took their "Promise of Service"

BY ASBAREZ

GLENDALE—The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western United States Central Committee celebrated the 128th anniversary of the organization during an event on Sunday, February 24 at the Glendale High School Auditorium, that featured as its keynote speaker the chairman of the ARF Bureau Hagop Der Khachadourian.

This year’s event was also dedicated to the Armenian youth, as the torchbearer of the Armenian Cause for the future, with the speakers emphasizing the imperative role the youth play in the advancement of the national aspirations of the Armenian Nation. A special video presentation highlighted the activities of the Armenian Youth Federation, the Armenian Youth Federation’s Junior Organization, the ARF Shant Student Association, AYF Camp and the organization’s youth-centric activities in the homeland.

A moving part of the ceremony was the procession of more than 100 AYF Junior novices who took their “Promise to Service,” officiated by Sanan Shirinian, a member of the ARF Shant Student Association and Principal of Orange County’s Ari Guiragos-Minassian School.

The commitment by the youth to shepherd the Armenian Cause into the future and the critical role young people have played in our history, as well as in the present, was highlighted by Mirna Kassamanian, who delivered remarks on behalf of the AYF.

“The future of the Armenian Nation rests on the shoulders of the Armenian youth around the world,” said Kassamanian, who pointed to the decisive role the youth played in last spring’s popular movement—Velvet Revolution—that toppled the oppressive Armenian government to usher in a new day for Armenia and all Armenians.

“That [Velvet] revolution stamped the soul of every young Armenian to aspire to climb new heights,” added Kassamanian.

In his keynote remarks, Der Khachadourian, the ARF Bureau chairman, eloquently and comprehensively outlined the positions of the party vis-à-vis the myriad and complex challenges facing the Armenian Nation. He explained that the ARF, having been born to serve the people, has the mammoth task of ensuring the strengthening of Armenia, being uncompromising in the Artsakh struggle and realignment of the Diaspora to effectively address the needs of the nation.

“In the 21st century, the Armenian people and the homeland represent a diverse reality, where on the one hand, the Armenian people during the last 30 years have attained massive achievements—Armenia is independent; Artsakh is liberated; the people of Javakhk have firmly planted their feet to their soil; and the Diaspora has matured politically and is at the forefront—huge achievements, about which we could only dream in our youth,” said Der Khachadourian.

“On the other hand,” the ARF Bureau chairman added, “the Armenian people naturally are facing enormous challenges—the Artsakh issue; the political and socio-economic situation in Armenia; the defense of the basic rights of the Armenians in Javakhk; the reinvigoration and strengthening of the Diaspora; the reawakening of the Armenian living on historic lands; and the new aspects of the pursuit of the Armenian Cause.”

Der Khachadourian said that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation has a unique role in all the aforementioned aspects, with it global presence, adding that ARF is not merely a political party that functions in the homeland, it is that large force that works for the realizations of the aspirations of the Armenian people.

The Bureau chairman meticulously outlined the ARF’s activities since last spring’s popular movement in Armenia, which toppled the old regime, as well as the steps the party has taken since the December 9, 2018 parliamentary elections, as a result of which, the party has become an extra-parliamentary force.

Der Khachadourian made it clear that the ARF is unequivocal in its unwavering efforts to strengthen the homeland. It is relentless in ensuring that compromises are not made in the Artsakh issue, the successes of which were won through the sacred blood of our people. The ARF, he said, will continue to advance a just resolution of the Armenian Cause and pursue the recognition of and reparations for the Armenian Genocide. Through its worldwide structure and vast Diaspora presence and influence, the party will stop at nothing to advance the just aspirations of the Armenian Nation, because “for us our biggest asset is our homeland and for the Diaspora, the biggest focus and ambition is a return to the homeland.”

Melkon Melkonian delivered the evening’s message on behalf of the ARF Western U.S. Central Committee. He boldly challenged those who have questioned the ARF’s motives and mission and delineated the many accomplishments by individual chapters and the region as a whole—all projects and programs that aim to strengthen the homeland and advance the Armenian identity abroad.

“For those who ask, what or what the Tashnagtsutyun is: It is that same organization who led the formation of the First Armenian Republic in 1918; it is that same organization that sough and executed justice for the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide; It is the same organization that organized and preserved our diasporas all over the world, by building schools, churches, and community centers to serve the needs of our people; it is the same organization that stopped at nothing to send aid to our brothers and sisters in Artsakh; it is the same organization that continues to tirelessly work for our people and nation,” said Melkonian in his remarks.

“Today standing before you, I do not want to merely recount our past successes, but I want to tell you—I must tell you—about our work and accomplishments; because as we celebrate today, we are also here to stand accountable to you, our people, from whom we were born, for who we exist. The success of that work does not belong to an individual, or even a group of individuals, it belongs to the collective strength of the ARF in our region,” added Melkonian, who went on to list some of the projects launched and initiated that have advanced the true calling of the ARF.

In keeping with tradition, the evening’s program began with a procession of flags and the signing of the National Anthems led by the Homenetmen Western Region scouts and marching band. Another presentation at the event, which has become customary over the years, was the in memoriam video, which honored those ARF members who passed away during the past year.

The program was interspersed with cultural performances, among them a dance performance by the Ararat Dance Ensemble under the direction of Albert Vartanyan; and rendition of patriotic song by the singer Mkrtich “makitch” Mkrtchyan. The evening finale was a thunderous performance by the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School Choir, directed by Lucine Melksetyan who was accompanied on the piano by Sofi Sarkisyan.

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