Banquets and Such

I’m not one who’s fond of pomp and pretense. You know exactly whereof I speak. All the show-offery and snootiness that is palpable every time an organization holds its “annual-gala-whoop-de-do-big-event-bash”, more commonly referred to as a banquet or dinner (and sometimes dance).

Yet, these events are a necessity, for fundraising, presentation of work, and show-of-force purposes. The trick is to not make them the mind-numbingly boring year-to-year redundancies they typically are.

Which brings me to this year’s ANC Western Region Banquet held on October 12. Typically, it’s held in some hotel, consuming vast amounts of money for insipid and usually non-Armenian food, served in pitifully small quantities. This year was significantly different. It was held at the Reagan presidential complex in Simi Valley, California.

On the most important level, holding the otherwise somewhat boring program there was a successful effort at breaking out of the routine venues used in previous years. This is an important level of growth and broadening in the perspective of an organization, especially one of ours. Too often we tend to become needlessly insular. For instance, if memory serves me, the banquet in question has for years been held within a ten mile radius of the Glendale Armenian ghetto in some hotel. Usually, it’s one that numerous other Armenian organizations also use. The venue added to the cachet of the event. It had Air Force One, the Boeing 707 used for some thirty years before being retired in 2001, along with other presidentially relevant gear–helicopter, police cars, etc. These historic bits added interest.

Before you get me wrong and think I’m one of those blathering, Reagan-worshiping miscreants, let me clarify. I despise what the man’stood for and did to his own country and the world (forget the myth of “he brought down the Soviet Union”). But, he did, perhaps almost accidentally, call the Genocide by its proper name. Once. Before his handlers put the kibosh on his ever doing so again. In this way, he arguably did more damage to the cause of Genocide recognition than if he’d never said anything. But the bottom line is, he did say the G-word, and deserves credit for it. It serves as an example of the possible for his successors. Ultimately, he’s the only U.S. President to have used “Genocide” to describe Turkey’s actions against us. Remember, the term “genocide” was not coined until after WWII. Thus, only subsequent holders of the office even had the option of its use. Reagan did it. The ANC’s choice represents reflects the decency and propriety.

This location/Reagan recognition is also politically astute. It should put to rest once and for all the absurd accusation floated by forces antagonistic to the ANC the it is a “ Democratic” organization, and unsupportive or opposed to Republicans. Particularly in an election year such as this one where the Republicans are getting a long overdue drubbing for their foolhardy policies and sitting president, for anyone to hold a major activity in a place redolent of Republicanism speaks volumes.

Let’s hope this kind of smart organizing continues. If you have suggestions, call the ANC and convey them.

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