Virginia’s Armenian Commission Holds First Meeting

August 23–2005 was a historic day for the Armenian-American community in Virginia and the United States–when the Governor’s Commission on Armenian Affairs held its first meeting in the Patrick Henry Building on the grounds of the State Capitol of Virginia. Bedros Bandazian was appointed to chair the committee.

The goal of the Commission on Armenian Affairs will be to create a relationship between the Commonwealth of Virginia–the Armenian-American Community of Virginia and the Republic of Armenia by creating projects and initiatives that will forge a greater bond. Various proposals were presented and adopted by the commission in the fields of medicine–academia–culture–government–business trade and networking. The designated mission will be to advise the Governor regarding development of economic–professional–educational and governmental links between the Commonwealth of Virginia–the Virginia Armenian-American Community and the Republic of Armenia.

The commission is empowered to undertake studies–symposiums–research–factual reports and initiatives in order to work with the Governor of Virginia in the implementation of its mission. It also has the task of creating mutual exchange of cultural and historical information between the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.

Barkev Baronian will work with the 400th Anniversary Commemoration of the founding of Jamestown–Virginia in 1607 and will research the history of the first Armenian on American soil–Martin the Armenian. The Jamestown 2007 Commemoration will celebrate America’s 400th Anniversary of the first permanent English colony in Virginia with new museum exhibits–films–programs and rare treasures on loan from major museums and international collections. The activities of Martin the Armenian–as well as other early Armenian settlers in the 17th Century–have been documented in various archives. Research is being conducted into their contributions to the Jamestown settlement and their role in the early growth of America. Ideally–there will some type of exhibit in Jamestown to recognize this first relationship between Armenia’s and America.

All Commission meetings are open to the public. The next scheduled meetings will be October 13–2005–and November 17–2005–from 10:30 AM until 3:00PM in the first floor meeting room of the Patrick Henry Building at 1111 East Broad Street–Richmond–Virginia.

It is the hope of all that the Governor’s Commission on Armenian Affairs will be able to create positive projects that will benefit the Commonwealth of Virginia–the Armenian-American Community of Virginia and the Republic of Armenia. For more information–please contact Louise Arnatt at Louise.Arnatt@governor.virginia.gov or Bedros Bandazian at bandaz@aol.com.

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