SAN FRANCISCO–The 15th anniversary of Armenia’s independence was marked by the San Francisco Bay area community during a banquet organized by the local Armenian Cultural Foundation chapter on September 23 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Among the guests at the banquet were Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Dr. Viken Hovsepian, ARF Western US Central Committee chairman Avedik Izmirlian and other members of the Central Committee, the local ARF "Kristapor" chapter president Varant Kasparian, deputy Consul General of France Patrice Servant, State Senator Joe Simitian, SF BART president James Fong and representatives of affiliate and community organizations. Following the singing of the Armenian and American Anthems by Helene Zindarzian, who was accompanied by her mother Annik on the piano, Mistress of Ceremonies Grace Andonian welcomed the participants, calling the independence of Armenia a dream for many generations of Armenia. In his remarks, Kasparian thanked the community for supporting efforts to strengthen Armenia’s statehood and participating in assistance programs and projects. The keynote speaker, Dr. Viken Hovsepian, detailed the events of the last 15 years, pointing to the important turning points that had marked the often bumpy road to independence. "Fifteen years is a long time for an individual and a person’s life; however, 15 years is but a blink of an eye in the history of a peoples, especially for the Armenian people who have several thousands years of history and struggle," said Dr. Hovsepian. "You are here today because you are a part of our mission, our struggle. Long live our mission and the struggle that guides our goal," concluded Hovsepian. Proclamations were presented on behalf of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newson by his representative Matthew Senekerimian and BART president Fong. Simitian and Servant both addressed the crowd congratulating the community on the independence anniversary.