BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
I was puzzled and disappointed by the overall lower turnouts for our April 24th period events this year, especially compared to last year. This was across the board, at all events. The number of events was down, too. Even Lobby Day in Sacramento saw a decreased turnout.
Is it because it’s not a “big” year in the count from 1915? By that I mean a multiple of five or ten. Last year it was the 95th, this year… Conversely, this year, April 24th fell on a Sunday, so there could not have been work conflicts for those who want to attend any of our events.
Meanwhile, our foes are gearing up, becoming more sophisticated, more attuned to the American political battlefield, and getting VERY moneyed up. Think about Yalcin Ayasli (Yalchin Ayashli) and his $30 million Hittite Corp. stock donation to start the Turkish Coalition of America, probably millions more to the Turkish Cultural foundation, and most importantly, over a quarter million dollars of POLITICAL giving by him and his family just in 2010! Make no mistake about it, all that money is aimed straight at fighting our community in the U.S. and worldwide in our efforts at securing that which the Turkish government has stolen from us.
So what are we doing while the Turks are getting their act together? Not participating, that’s what! And why aren’t we? Well, it seems some nasty stuff went down almost 2000 years ago, and a day that floats the breadth of two months of the year is used to recognize/celebrate that 2000 year-old stuff. This year, that day happened to fall on April 24th. Well, as a result, everyone was busy eating dyed eggs and fish and visiting friends and family. Our church, the ARMENIAN Apostolic Church (AAC), for whatever reason, chose to inflict and impose the results of the arcane formula of when Easter is celebrated on the nation whose child it is. Disregarding the conflict, yes CONFLICT, created by the coincidence of April 24 and Easter for the first time since the date became relevant to our nation.
Why did the church do this? Simple habit? Greed? Remember, this is the biggest church attendance day which means a lotta-loot flowing into the church’s collection plates? Public relations obliviousness? Imagine if the date had been changed, say, to the old system under which we celebrated Easter much later, sometimes in May. Think of the media frenzy “Armenian church moves Easter!” the headlines would have screamed. And, immediately after, the “why” would have been answered, further generating Genocide awareness among our neighbors. This mistake is unconscionable. If it is to remain our national church, then the AAC should act the part.
All the linguistic gymnastics, at all the events, tying together Easter and April 24th, the “death and rebirth” gimmick, that were on display can’t make up for the harm done to our efforts in furtherance of our just cause. Imagine, at the Unified Young Armenians event, though hyped as having huge attendance while the opposite was true, at least one speaker expended great effort to tie Easter and April 24 together. Yet the event was topsy-turvy with the rally first and the march following, almost assuring that even the crowd that had gathered would tend to dissipate. All this because of the Easter conflict.
The gathering at the Montebello Martyrs Monument was held NOT on the 24th, for the first time in at least 15 years that I can remember. It was moved to the 23rd. This in turn caused a dual conflict of that gathering with the AYF’s “Cycle Against Denial”. The times of both events overlapped, plus, a group of bicyclists riding from Glendale to the gathering at the monument and back resulted in two cycling events on the same day, at partially overlapping times.
The only unchanged event was the AYF-organized demonstration at the Turkish consulate. MUCH credit is due the AYF for resisting pressure to change even this most politically relevant of our events.
All this happened because of a lack of foresight and proper consideration of our nation’s needs on the part of our church leadership and insufficient pressure from us, the laity, the Armenian community.
Let’s NEVER allow this to happen again!