BY FLORENCE AVAKIAN
WASHINGTON—The Centennial of the Armenian Genocide will have its climax in a three-day commemoration in the nation’s capital from Thursday, May 7 to Saturday, May 9. All Armenian-American churches, compatriotic and benevolent organizations, and political groups are uniting to present one powerful voice to the American nation and the world for this supreme effort which will be a clarion call not only for the United States, but internationally.
In a telephone conversation with this writer, Dr. Noubar Afeyan, Chairman of the National Genocide Commemoration Committee, in emphasizing the crucial concept of unity for this important event, he noted that it forms a great part of the word community.
“We aspire to present important themes for this Centennial observation,” he stated. “For all Armenians, there is this apprehension and inadequacy that we haven’t done enough to be worthy of the people who died a hundred years ago. There is also the idea of “blending of the commemoration and bringing attention to what the survivors have accomplished,” he pointed out.
And then there is the strong belief that “we need to express our gratitude and deep appreciation to the institutions and people who have contributed so valiantly to our survival and well-being. Many forces stepped in and supported us, especially in the United States.
“We are aspiring to the unity of the Armenian-American community, and the realization of these themes to bring together all aspects of these climactic three days in the nation’s capital,” Dr. Afeyan said.
Dr. Noubar Afeyan who has assumed this crucial role, is founder and CEO of Flagship Ventures, an entrepreneurial innovation firm that manages $1.5 billion in early stage venture capital, and a portfolio of 35 companies. A Ph.D graduate of MIT, he is also a Senior Lecturer at its Sloan School of Management. He has authored several scientific publications and patents, and has lectured widely in the U.S. and internationally.
Currently he serves as Chairman of the Global Agenda Council on Chemicals, Advanced Materials and Biotechnology of the World Economic Forum, and serves on several boards promoting economic development in Armenia.
For his numerous stellar accomplishments to America and Armenia, Dr. Afeyan has been awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2008), the Prime Minister of Armenia commemorative medal for patriotic activities (2012), the Saint Gregory the Illuminator gontag and medallion from Catholicos Karekin II (2012), and the Services to the Motherland order from Armenia’s President Serge Sargsyan (2014).
Powerful Entities and Personalities Involved in Commemoration
The National Council of Churches, and the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops have formally invited President Barack Obama and members of the U.S. Congress to attend the ecumenical service at the National Cathedral. Also expected to be present is the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian.
Partaking in the special service in Washington’s august National Cathedral will be the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, and the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I. The three days of events in Washington D.C. will be under the auspices of the two Catholicoi who will journey from Armenia following the canonization of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide in Holy Etchmiadzin on April 23. On that day, there will be ringing of church bells around the world.
The Steering Committee of this Centennial Commemoration includes Primate of the Eastern Diocese Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Primate of the Western Diocese Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Diocesan Legate in Washington D.C. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, and Centennial Commemoration Chairman Dr. Noubar Afeyan.
The National Committee includes representatives of groups from around the United States, while the subcommittees carrying out the daily work of creating the events are mostly based in Washington D.C. The all-important Finance Committee is chaired by Dr. Jean-Jacques Hajjar. Dr. Susan Pattie has been engaged as Program Manager.