Celebration Marks May 28 Independence

"OUR COUNTRY–AND THE PRESIDENT WHO REPRESENTS IT–MUST OPERATE FROM POSITIONS OF STRENGTH. WE–JUST AS THE GENERATION OF VARTANANK IN 451–JUST AS THE GENERATION OF MAY 28 IN 1918–HAVE ONE ALTERNATIVE: OUR ONLY ALTERNATIVE IS VICTORY."

PASADENA–A celebration of the May 28–1918 Armenian Independence Day took place on Sunday–June 1–at the Pasadena City College Sexon Auditorium–which was packed by the community-at-large and invited guests who had gathered en-masse to celebrate the noteworthy historical event.

Present were Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Rev. Arshag Khachadourian representing the newly elected Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian–Consul General of Armenia to the US Valery Mkrtoumian–ARF Bureau members Vicken Hovsepian and Garo Armenian–members of the Central Committee of ARF Western Region–Hunchagian Party representative Arshag Kazanjian–Ramgavar Party Regional Executive vice-chair Levon Keleshian and members Ara Aharonian and Steve Elmasian–AGBU Regional Executive representative Krikor Patatian and Simon Simonian–as well as the representatives and members of ARF-affiliated organizations and a wide array of other community institutions and organizations.

The Pasadena Azadamard Homenetmen’scouts performed the flag ceremony–followed by the singing of the US national anthem by Lori Partamian and the Armenian anthem by Shushan Petrosian.

Master of Ceremonies Melkon Melkonian in his opening remarks noted–"The first independent Republic of Armenia came about as a result of the Armenian national struggle; our heroes achieved the impossible because they were united–body and soul. It was that kind of psychological atmosphere that gave birth to the miracle of Sardarabad." Emphasizing the absolute dedication of those who established the First Armenian Republic–he appealed to present and future generations to renew that spirit of dedication.

ARF Central Committee member Vahe Bozoian noted in his address that the victories of Bash-Abaran–Sardarabad and Gharakilise became the signposts for the Armenian people’s future victories on the path toward Armenia’s present independence. He referred to the various attempts–past and present–to cause injury to the ARF–adding that those efforts have been and will remain for naught. Speaking about the great potential of the Armenian-American community–he said it is vital to come together to defend our national interests and Armenia’s independence.

Bozoian said there have been conscious attempts in the past few months to disrupt and even undermine the unity of the community. "The presidential and parliamentary election campaigns too often left the bounds of what is constructive and beneficial–and attempts were made to create a chaotic situation in the community." Bozoian stressed–however–that for the ARF the priority lies in creating a healthy political culture that tolerates and leaves room for a civil exchange of differing views.

Keynote speaker and ARF Bureau member Garo Armenian–from Washington DC–addressed the capacity crowd–describing May 28 as the greatest act of daring in the last 100 years of our national history.

"Today we are gathered to observe the Day of Armenian Triumph," Armenian said. "On the list of national holidays in Armenia–it is noted as ‘the re-establishment of statehood day'; the significance of this day–however–is much greater than that modest description. May 28 is our Day of National Resurrection; it is a day that symbolizes our enigmatic national identity; it is the day of liberation of our national spirit: a day of having established new standards for surpassing ourselves–of bravely rowing against the ferocious currents of subjugation–of breaking the rust-covered chains of slavery–for the sake of our collective existence.

"The daring generation of May 28–1918 entered the complex course of the 20th century with victorious strides–assuring a worthy existence for all of us–up to the present–as a result of the new paradigm it established."

Pointing to the precariousness and instability of the region in which Armenia finds itself–the speaker several times stressed the imperative of securing today’s independent statehood–because "all around our country a constant realignment of forces is taking place–daily bringing to the surface the diverse calculations of regional and superpower interests."

"Our country–and the President who represents it–must operate from positions of strength. We–just as the generation of Vartanank in 451–just as the generation of May 28 in 1918–have one alternative: Our only alternative is victory."

Turning to the current situation–the speaker noted that the Armenian state is at a new phase in its existence–because on the external front–that is–in the life of the three adjacent regions of the Caucasus–Central Asia–and particularly the Middle East–a new world order is being formed that is laden with great surprises. Accordingly–he stressed the importance of correctly pursuing policies both on the internal and on the external fronts.

In the concluding section of his address–the speaker took up the issue of Armenia’s internal policies–underscoring that with the recent presidential and parliamentary elections Armenian statehood has entered a new phase internally. Pointing to the serious shortcomings of the parliamentary elections–he affirmed that the new National Assembly is far from representing the true picture of the relative popularity of the country’s political forces. As a result–he said–the formation of a full-fledged democratic order in the republic will grow more difficult.

Armenian said it is imperative that those who have assumed the leadership of the country fully take into account the responsibilities of the state toward the people. He pointed to corruption as the most destructive aspect in the life of the Republic–saying that it has a detrimental impact on the economy–the social realm–the legal system–and even cultural spheres–thus predetermining the course of political life.

Also participating in the night’s celebrations were actor Levon Sharafian from Armenia and the Hamazkayin Ani dance group. The celebrations were concluded with lively renditions by singers Shushan Petrosian from Armenia and Karnig Sarkissian.

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