First Commemoration Held at Mt. Davidson Cross

BY BEDROS PANOSSIAN

Translated from Armenian

SAN FRANCISCO–The Bay Area Armenian community held unprecedented Armenian Genocide commemorative events this year at the newly acquired Mt. Davidson Cross.

On Friday–April 24–the Armenian Youth Federation held a candlelight requiem service and vigil. Master of Ceremonies of the program was Shant Sarkissian. Lorie Aintablian recited Siamanto’s "Baruh (The Dance)," and Garen Kantarjian performed "Kheghtamah (Suffocation)." Abraham Yacoubian delivered the message–in English–of the AYF. A slide presentation followed.

On Sunday–April 26–Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Western Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America–served the holy liturgy and conducted a memorial service at St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church.

The religious service was followed at 2 p.m. at Mt. Davidson Cross where a solemn procession and laying of wreaths was followed by a requiem service. The commemorative event was organized by the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee and the Armenian National Committee of San Francisco.

Among official guests were San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown; San Francisco City Council President Barbara Kaufman; Leanne Preski and her staff; city attorney Louise Rene who played a major role in the acquisition of the Mt. Davidson Cross; Marjorie Farrar representing Tom Lantoss; California State Senator Carol Magden who was not present–had sent a commemorative declaration; State Senator Kevin Shelley; State Senator Alfred Alquisdt and his wife Elaine–from San Jose; former State Senator and current Senatorial candidate Jackie Spier–who is of Armenian origin.

Also in attendance were official guests Consul General of Greece Christos Cristopoulos and his wife Daniella; Consul General of Cyprus Simonidis; Consul General of Armenia Armen Melkonian; Bishop Levayda of the Armenian Catholic community–and Reverend Mamen from the Evangelical Organization.

Accompanying Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian in the requiem service were Bishop Aris Shirvanian–Reverend Papken Charian–Father Mesrob Sarafian–Father Steve Muncherian–Father James Kizirian–Father Rafael Minassian–as well as cub scouts and brownie scouts from San Francisco and Santa Clara.

After introducing all official and religious guests–Master of Ceremonies Vartan Kasbarian invited religious representatives and community organizations to place their wreaths at the foot of Mt. Davidson Cross. Wreaths were placed by the ARF "Christapor" Gomideh–Homenetmen of Santa Clara and San Francisco–ARS "Garin" and "Oakland" Chapters–Krouzian-Zekarian-Vasbouragan Armenian School–Hamazkayin Cultural and Educational Organization–Tekeyan Cultural Foundation–Knights of Vartan–Board of Trustees of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church–Parish Councils of St. Hovhannes–St. Vartan–Bethel and Calcutta Armenian Churches.

The requiem service was held after official guests delivered their messages.

A cultural program was held at Saroyan Hall at 5:30 Sunday afternoon–where Musa Dagh Armenia’s offered "madagh" to all guests. The program began with an official scout flag ceremony. After opening the program–Hrayr Shahinian–Chairperson of the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee–thanked all participants and volunteers–and invited Master of Ceremonies Paul Tour Sarkissian and Father Muncherian who blessed the program.

The Jbour Choir performed under the directorship of S. Panossian. The message of the AYF was delivered by Shant Bezdjian. Hrag Kalebjian and Tsoler Aghamarian recited poetry. Louise Nalbanian performed Aram Khachatourian’s Toccata–and Tamar Mahdesian recited poetry in English. Kevork Boursalian performed two songs–accompanied on the piano by Nayiri Sarkis. Florence Soghoian gave a speech in English–and Stepan Topdjian gave one in Armenian.

Consul General Armen Melkonian was greeted by loud applause as he approached the podium to deliver his speech.

Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian brought the event to a close with a prayer.

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