Below is the text of the speech by ANCA-WR Co-Chair Nora Hovsepian during the ANCA Annual Banquet
Good evening, Your Eminences, Reverend Clergy, Distinguished Guests, Honorees and Elected Officials, representatives of Armenian community organizations, and fellow activists:
My name is Nora Hovsepian, and as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, I would like to welcome all of you to our 2012 Annual Banquet. I am extremely proud to say that we have a sold-out event tonight with 1000 of our most dedicated supporters in attendance, and we are grateful for the commitment that each and every one of you has shown to the advancement of the Armenian Cause under the leadership of the ANCA.
Before conveying our organization’s message, I would like to acknowledge the tremendous work performed by our 2012 Banquet Committee, a dedicated and efficient team of young professionals, many of whom are new to the ANCA-WR but who will undoubtedly remain with our organization for the long term. Under the capable leadership and talent of our wonderful banquet co-chairs, Mrs. Arsho Beylerian and Mrs. Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian, they so ably succeeded in organizing this truly awesome evening for all of us tonight. So let’s all give a round of applause to our Banquet Co-Chairs and our Banquet Committee for such a successful event! Thank you!
I also want to thank Doubleday Publishing and Neshan and Rubina Peroomian for donating the books of two of tonight’s honorees: Chris Bohjalian’s The Sandcastle Girls, and Dr. Peroomian’s The Armenian Genocide in Literature: Perceptions of Those Who Lived Through the Calamity. Both of these books are very valuable additions to your personal libraries as they shed light in different ways on the collective trauma of the Armenian People as we deal with the consequences of a still unpunished Genocide. Again, thank you both very much for your generosity and for your invaluable and lasting contribution toward educating the public about the Armenian Cause.
And to our honorees in other fields, on behalf of the ANCA-WR Board, I would like to thank Varant Melkonian for his steadfast commitment, dedication and generosity to our organization and to our Cause and for humbly accepting this honor tonight.
To Reverend Joseph D. Matossian, a spiritual leader who has been a shining light in rallying support for the Armenian Cause, we congratulate you on your upcoming retirement and wish you continued health and strength as you continue your good work.
And finally, to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for his long-standing commitment to the advancement of the Armenian Cause within the United States Senate and for his enthusiastic response when learning that we had chosen to honor him tonight. But more on that later.
As most of you already know, the Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most effective grassroots advocacy organization promoting issues of concern to the Armenian community. Proudly representing over one million Armenian-Americans nationwide, with over half living here in Southern California, the ANCA Western Region, in coordination with its counterparts in the Eastern Region and Washington DC, works tirelessly through its Board, staff, local chapters, committees and volunteers to serve as the representative, liaison, and advocate of the Armenian community in the United States.
We plan Advocacy Days, candidate debates, DestiNation weekends, Meet & Greets, and Leadership Conferences.
We educate young professionals, students and interns about how to advocate for the Armenian Cause through our local, regional, and national internship programs.
We implement strategies to promote our Cause through film and the arts, through traditional and social media, and through public education.
We organize our local communities and we mobilize our grassroots into action.
Our political participation extends to every level of government and across all political parties from Neighborhood Councils, to City government, to State capitols where several of our own are on the verge of being elected next week and beyond, including Republican Greg Krikorian in the 43rd Assembly District of Glendale, Burbank, Crescenta Valley and Hollywood; Democrat Adrin Nazarian in the 46th Assembly District of the San Fernando Valley; Republican Katcho Achadjian to be re-elected in the 33rd Assembly District of San Luis Obispo; Scott Wilk, an adopted Armenian son, in the 38th Assembly District of Santa Clarita; Alan Jackson, another adopted Armenian son, as Los Angeles County District Attorney; and to the Halls of Congress, where Republican Danny Tarkanian will soon be elected from our neighboring State of Nevada. The ANCA-WR enthusiastically endorses each of these candidates and asks for your votes to help elect them next week.
There are many other candidates for election and re-election which the ANCA has painstakingly reviewed and met before deciding to endorse them. You will hear their names a bit later. You will be able to welcome them here, and you will know who to vote for on November 6th to ensure that our collective voices are heard and our community’s interests are properly represented by our elected officials.
On a grassroots level, we encourage civic engagement at the ballot box through our massive Hye Votes initiative, which has already registered thousands of new Armenian-American voters and which will Get Out The Vote next week and in all future elections. Our ever-growing politically-active communities have become a valuable commodity in swing states such as Nevada, Colorado, and Florida, and in smaller districts where the vote counts are close. And since the Armenian-American community is generally a cohesive voting entity, we do have the ability to influence the outcome of these elections, and we will act upon that ability.
Our message is clear, and our convictions are unwavering.
As actively engaged citizens of this great land, we demand from our government, not seek, but demand, that Turkey’s gag rule over our country’s moral obligation to speak the truth be lifted, and that an unequivocal and proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide and its consequences be adopted.
From modern-day Turkey, the indisputable heir and beneficiary of the Genocide perpetrated by its predecessor, and a so-called U.S. ally not worthy of our government’s trust or of our tax dollars, we demand reparations for its still unpunished crime against humanity, including the return of our ancient churches, monuments, confiscated properties, and territories.
For the newly-independent Republic of Armenia, we strive to strengthen and support economic development and democracy by securing U.S. aid and assistance for a country which hosts the second-largest American Embassy in the region, and which, due to its American-style system of government, its well-organized and vocal Diaspora, and its strategic location neighboring Russia, Turkey, and Iran, presents a unique and untapped geopolitical opportunity for U.S. interests in the Transcaucasus, similar to Israel’s position in the Middle East.
In line with the ideals set forth by our founding fathers, we seek U.S. recognition and protection for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and their right to self-determination and independence from an increasingly hostile, aggressive, and overtly threatening Azerbaijan, a country which against all international norms, seeks and receives extradition of a convicted axe-murderer, Ramil Safarov, and gives him a hero’s welcome to thumb its nose at civilized criminal justice systems and to encourage other politically-motivated murderers of innocent Armenians to act with impunity.
This is our agenda. These are our goals. So what can you, this army of 1000 supporters and the thousands of others not here tonight, do to help?
Please regularly visit our websites at ancawr.org and anca.org to specifically see how you can participate and add your voice to the collective strength of our community.
Sign-up to receive email blasts and act on them when you receive an Action Alert.
Continue to support ANCA regional and local events and programs.
Support our supporters, but also hold them accountable.
Post comments on positive and negative media coverage online.
Volunteer your time.
Contribute financially what you can.
Spread the word to anyone who will listen.
Stay actively involved.
Register to vote, and most importantly now, actually go out and vote for those who support our Cause.
You – our grassroots – are our strength, a weapon unleashed that even our well-funded enemies cannot stop. The seeds have been planted, so onward we go.