GLENDALE–The first fundraising gathering benefiting the transport of Gen. Dro’s remains to Armenia and the establishment of a leadership institute in his name took place Sunday–at the Brandview Collection–where more than $75,000 was raised for this project. Benefactor Sako Mardirossian sponsored the event–which attracted more that 200 community members.
The leadership institute–which will be named for the great fedayee Gen. Dro–will be renovated and operated under the auspices of the Armenia’s president and the defense ministry. It will serve as a memorial to the great hero who immortalized the Armenian national spirit and military mission.
Present at the gathering were Western Primate Arch. Vatche Hovsepian–Western Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian–Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee representative Hovig Saliba–Gen. Dro’s son Mr. & Mrs. Mardig and Alice Ganayan and other Ganayan family members.
Gen. Dro’s remains are scheduled to be transported to Armenia on May 28,. 2000.
The Ganayan family decided to begin the fund-raising effort in Los Angeles–and continue the drive in Eastern US and Canada.
The banquet commenced with the singing of the national anthems by Garen Gharibian–following which the invocation was said by Primate Vatche Hovsepian,
The Mistress of Ceremonies–Mako Mgrdichian adeptly led the program by paying homage to Gen. Dro and his undying legacy to the Armenian people.
She stressed that through efforts such as this–the basis of the Armenian state are being strengthened–and by transporting the remains of Armenian national heroes–new impetus is being given to the national ideology of the Armenian people.
Vahig Gourjian–the Western Region chairman of the special committee set up to oversee the project–addressed the gathering explaining that the proposal to transport Gen. Dro’s remains was initiated by the government of Armenia and conveyed by Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan during last year’s Armenian independence 80th anniversary celebrations. Gourjian excerpted portions of the official proposal presented to Gen. Dro’s son–Mardig Ganayan.
The keynote speaker for the evening was long-time colleague and friend of Gen. Dro’s Kristapor Pakradouni–who especially emphasized the General’s capabilities as a leader through his ability to befriend and endear those around him.
Pakradouni also described Dro’s image as a free thinker and one who had attained his freedom by beating insurmountable odds–to emerge as a leader of an entire generation and forever embedding his mark on Armenian history.
For Gen. Dro–Pakradouni explained–those who dedicated their lives to the Armenian nation were above all respected.
Gen. Dro was an objective observer of history. Pakradouni recounted that while–for example–Gen. Dro was not religious–his efforts to wage a struggle to liberate the Cilician See from the Bolsheviks had an immense impact of Armenia’s–changing history and the reality especially for Diaspora Armenia’s.
Also addressing the gathering was Dr. Vartiter Kotcholosian-Hovannisian–whose testimonial as a Displaced Person (DP)–underscored the important role Dro played in saving Armenian. A salvation–the depths of which she has only recently grasped.
Armenia’s Consul General to Los Angeles Armen Melkonian described the government’s plans for providing a worthy reburial for Gen. Dro. He placed special emphasis on the leadership institute bearing Dro’s name–which enjoys the sponsorship of the government of Armenia.
In conclusion–Gen. Dro’s son–Mardig Ganayan addressed the gathering–expressing his family’s gratitude to benefactor Mardirossian and announcing that one of the classrooms in the leadership center would be named after the philanthropist.
Ganayan also thanked Gourjian–the ARF Western Region Central Committee for its efforts in rallying support within the ARF ran’s for this project. He also announced that similar fund-raisers were already planned on the East Coast and Canada.
As a commendation–the banquet committee presented a drawing of Gen. Dro on his horse–by Seda Khachatourian to benefactor Mardirossian.
A cultural program was also featured during the banquet–with a musical recital performed by Sossy and Salpi Kerkonian. The father and son team of Raffi and Haybert Allaverdian performed national songs–accompanied by a folk instrumental troupe. A documentary video on the battle of Bash-Abaran commanded by Gen. Dro was also shown.
The program concluded with the benediction presented by Prelate Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian.