AMAA Announces Winners of James Jameson Essay Contest

“Alex Tavlian of Fresno, CA is the winner of the James Jameson Essay Contest this year,” announced Doug Kurjian, Chairman of the Publications Committee of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA). Tavlian’s essay in the high school category was “Adam Schiff: Friend of the Armenian Community.”

The panel of the judges included three other members namely Vartan Sahagian, Arthur Artinian and Judith Kurjian. Alex Tavlian who is a member of the First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Fresno, received an award in the amount of $300. “Various factors come into play in judging writing,” said Mr. Kurjian. “This includes appropriateness of material, style, clarity, content, emotion, logic, credibility, organization, development, maturity, diction, usage and connection with the reader.”

In addition to Alex, three college-bound students received awards for their essays that were submitted along with their scholarship applications. The winners were Jenna Gavroian, first place, for her essay “The Hurdle of Life;” Jonathan Garabedian, second place, for his essay “Major Influences that Continue to Shape my Life;” and Lisa Der Ohanessian, third place, for her essay “Road to Success.” The panel of judges for this category along with Doug Kurjian were Nurhan Helvacian, Arouss Darpinian and Berjouhi Gulesserian. The winners received awards of $300, $250 and $200, respectively.

The Board of Directors of the AMAA congratulates the winners and encourages our young students to participate in this contest. The deadline for next year’s contest is May 1, 2009. Those who are interested in participating can contact AMAA at 201-265-2607.

The Winning Essay:

Adam Schiff: Friend of the Armenian Community


Author Theodore White once said, “To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform.” (Wisdom Quotes.) This form of heroism, of political courage, is seen too rarely in 21st Century public life.

One nation in this world is based on the proposition that a person should have equal representation in a governing body when compared with another person. That nation is the United States of America, a constitutional republic that was founded on this precept, but has slowly fallen away from the ideal of equal representation.

Some United States Representatives and Senators have forgotten constitutional ideals in recent times and need to be reminded of our enduring standards as they carry out the Federal legislative process. Other Representatives and Senators exemplify the standards and duties of legislators as conceived by the Founding Fathers. One legislator deserving of public recognition is Representative Adam Schiff of the 29th Congressional District of California. (Biographical Directory of U.S. Congress.)

As the duly elected Representative of the 29th District, Adam Schiff has worked hard with other Representatives and Senators to devise solutions to many problems on an international and national scale to ensure that his people, along with all the people of the United States, are ensured full and fair representation in our national government. This is a trait by which all our Presidents have lived. (Biographical Directory of U.S. Congress.)

To that end, Representative Schiff has displayed tremendous courage in following the long legislative path known as House Resolution 106: “Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution.” This Resolution recognizes that the Armenian Genocide was conceived and carried out by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 and resulted in the deportation of nearly two million Armenia’s, three-quarters of whom were killed. (House Resolution 106; Bryce, Treatment of the Armenia’s, pp. 2-684; Armenian National Committee.)

With about 70,000 Americans of Armenian descent currently residing in California’s 29th District, Schiff appropriately represented his people by sponsoring this legislation, laboring tirelessly to reveal a historical truth to an often uncaring, preoccupied nation and world. Not only did House Resolution offer the details of the Armenian Genocide, the legislation documented the American record relating to this horrific incident of ethnic cleansing. (House Resolution 106; Armenian National Committee; Armenian Weekly.)

After Representative Schiff made a sincere effort to clear up the historical record, opponents of the Resolution–including former Members of Congress and other registered agents of the modern Republic of Turkey–made incredible efforts to delay, defer, and prevent floor consideration of the Resolution. (U.S. Department of State, Interview.) Many of his Congressional colleagues backpedaled after “feeling the heat” from prominent office holders and influence peddlers. Representative Schiff strongly resisted these pervasive strong-arm tactics, standing on historical truths rather than accepting lobbyist payoffs or yielding to the influence of legislative agents of a foreign power. (Doyle; Voice of America News; Voice of America News; CNN International, Vote on Armenian Genocide; CNN, Pelosi.)

Representative Schiff has exemplified the utmost in courage in the 110th Congress, due to his support of this unpopular legislation, and has been the subject of ridicule among his peers. By doing so, he also has added his name to a list of people who have backed purported “enemies” of perceived allies of the United States. Although House Resolution 106 has had little action since October 2007, Representative Schiff has received heavy ridicule from the officers and agents of the Republic of Turkey, an action that ought to be expected when crossing an ally. (Doyle.)

This type of courage is rarely seen in our legislative process. Far more often, ordinary Americans see their elected Representatives roll over to corporations, governmen’s, or special interest groups because of the amount of power–political, financial, or military–they hold. A federal legislator who takes the oath of office promises to “bear truth faith and allegiance” to the Constitution of the United States. Shifting with political winds–even strong ones–is a far cry from “true faith and allegiance.” (5 U.S. Code, sec. 3331.)

Because of what Representative Adam Schiff has done for the United States and for his district, Americans ought to cast their vote for Representatives who will step forward and do what is right for their republic, state, and district instead of rolling over to payoffs and other types of incentives. Like our Founding Fathers, the life and career of U.S. Representative Adam Schiff is a true Profile of Courage.


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