BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
The Armenian Youth Federation Turns 80 today and with it provides an opportunity to highlight and emphasize the importance of youth in Armenia’s liberation struggle and nation-building process.
As we look at movements old and new, the one constant that fuels their relevance is that at the forefront of it all were young men and women willing to risk all for change and advancement.
So was the impetus for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation to dispatch General Karekin Njdeh to Boston with a task of bringing together young Armenians and organize them with a sense of national purpose and a will to advance the Armenian Cause. Upon his arrival there, the Armenian Youth Federation was born and continues to engage and empower new generations of Armenians to prioritize the Armenian Cause and soldier on for the just aspirations of the Armenian people.
The role the AYF has played in advancing a youth movement has been tremendously important in post-1918 independence community building efforts in the Diaspora, especially in the United States.
More importantly, however, is that despite the changing landscape of political activism, the AYF’s mission remains as relevant and as crucial as it was during its burgeoning years.
The mission, in short, is to work toward the establishment of a Free, Independent and United Armenia.
The tenet of the AYF’s success has been that every generation of young Armenians has advanced the AYF mission with dedication, will and humility and has been able to leave its mark at every turning point in our national history.
Today, the AYF is a visible presence in the post-independence Armenian reality. With programs such as the Youth Corps, the AYF is advancing its mission by bringing together young Armenians in Gyumri and Artsakh and instilling in them national values and traditions, which have lacked in Soviet times. The AYF is also in the forefront of social and environmental movements in Armenia and through its network of members and supporters is calling for change and reforms that are critical to our nation.
The post-independence and millennial generations, however, have a more urgent responsibility to marshal this mission and emerge as leaders of not only our communities worldwide, but of our nation. The communications and technological advances at the disposal of young people today should make the advancement of the Armenian cause a global movement, the leader of which must be the AYF.
Through recalibration of their activities and becoming more visible in the community the AYF has the potential to move every element of the community behind its mission and drive the advancement of the Armenian Cause. This anniversary must serve as an opportunity for the AYF to renew its commitment to Hai-Tahd and pledge to vigorously press on the national aspirations of the Armenian nation.
The AYF must lead and not follow.
As a once member of this great organization, I am proud to mark its 80th anniversary and pledge my support to its continued efforts to elevate the Armenian nation.
Happy Anniversary AYF!