BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
As usual, when it rains, it pours good events in the LA area, and the preceding weekend was no exception to that rule.
The best was the set of memorial gatherings for Missak Torlakian, one of the participants in the ARF’s Nemesis operation that targeted and assassinated the main perpetrators of the Genocide. Torlakian was one of those avengers and he is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in East LA. Conversation in the car ride led to a discussion of Arshavir Shiragian, another of the avengers, and where he’s buried (probably NJ). I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t know. But these two, and of course Soghomon Tehlirian (Fresno), are buried in the U.S. The least we can do is give them due honors with some regularity. They are among those who can serve to further inspire today’s activists.
The fact that Torlakian is in East LA also led to a conversation in the car which demonstrated how painfully oblivious to our community’s history the overwhelming majority of us are. My conversationalist was surprised to learn of where our earliest community was concentrated… East LA. This is symptomatic of the effects of the successive waves of Armenian settlement in the LA basin. We have to do better at tying it all together. One of the fringe benefits of doing so would be the lessening of the foolish distinctions we perpetuate among ourselves with our “this-or-that-a-hye” and “this-or-that-tzee.”
I was only able to attend the brief memorial service at the cemetery (not the hokehankeesd and gathering at the Montebello church), and had to speed to my local Burbank ARS chapter’s breakfast. These are always fun, filling, and friendly. More people should join in. I also learned, at the memorial, that the Orange County ARS had an event going!
But the weekend also started off right. There was an important discussion of Armenian Diaspora relations headlined by Raffi Hovannisian and Viken Hovsepian, presidential candidate in Armenia and ARF Western Region chair, respectively. Raffi’s speech aimed to create better connectedness between Homeland and Diaspora, while Viken addressed the current lack of a unifying focus that would motivate that kind of mutually supportive behavior. Attendance well exceeded 350 people, a gratifying reality. But it’s interesting to note that the last big gathering I attended in the same venue had people spilling out the doors (probably 600 people). That event was held during the aftermath of the Hrant Dink murder. Do we care that much more about our dead, our martyrs, than our future?
Simultaneously, the ARPA Institute was hosting a lecture on the digitization of Armenian texts, an important matter, if our cultural treasures are to survive in any meaningful way into the remote future. Unfortunately, one can only be in one place at a given time. Perhaps we should start the habit of video-recording everything and throwing it up on YouTube, or better yet, a dedicated Armenian programming site.
You see what I mean by when it rains it pours? I hope you, too, choose to get wet next time.