BY GAIANEH AVANESSIAN
GLENDALE—The Armenian Youth Federation’s “One Voice, One Cause” rally brought together community members highlighting the vibrant culture and resilience of the Armenian people a week prior to April 24 commemoration activities for the Armenian Genocide.
The event was held outside St. Mary’s Armenian Church and was filled with traditional Armenian music featuring beloved Armenian singers Harout Pamboukjian, Armen Movsisyan, Armen Aloyan, Razmig Mansourian, Harut Hagopian, Raffi Semerjian as well as a performance by Dj Bei Ru.
Local artists and photographers also displayed their work for the public. Photos from Gyumri were on display showing the destruction in the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake. The photos also showed glimmers of hope, where Armenians came together to help rebuild their ravished city.
AYF members Tro Krikorian and Sanan Shirinian each gave profound speeches which resonated with the crowd. Shirinian noted the strength, determination and courage of the Armenian people who despite having been nearly annihilated in the Genocide, are thriving today.
“Looking back on our history it is hard to deny that we have lost so much, we lost the greater part of our lands, our churches, millions of our people, so much wealth; but we have not, nor will we ever, lose our ability to survive, grow and create” said Shirinian as the crowd erupted into applause.
The AYF had set up a photo booth for remembrance where everyone was encouraged to write a message pertaining to the Genocide, and the photos were combined to make a slideshow playing throughout the event. Community members young and old wrote messages calling for the recognition of the Genocide as well as their family’s survival stories.
To further promote unity and rebirth in the community, the AYF recorded attendees saying a phrase of the famous William Saroyan quote, “Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia”. The video clip represents the strength and perseverance of the Armenian people today, after nearly being exterminated from the face of the Earth less than a century ago.
The impressive program ended with Harout Pampoukjian and his emotional closing with the singing of the Armenian national anthem. “Now more than ever, we are laughing again, we are singing again and we will be home again,” noted Shirinian in her speech.
“The event was altogether refreshing, both in the message of rebirth it relayed as well as in the demographics it attracted,” said AYF Central Executive member Niree Kodaverdian. “It was great to see the community at large standing together, remembering their ancestor’s strength of will and pride through music”.
Founded in 1933, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian American youth organization in the United States, working to advance the social, political, educational and cultural awareness of Armenian-American youth.