BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Turkey’s tainted top bananas have kept me so busy with their blather the last few weeks that I’m late in my annual droning about our Genocide-season activities. But then… that’s why Ankara’s big-shots are doing what they’re doing, isn’t it? It’s to keep us distracted and (figuratively) stumbling all over ourselves as we fumble for responses. Plus, because of numerous commitments this year, I made it to relatively few events, only nine.
The April 18 program I went to that was the cancelled one I mention in my other piece. The second was Burbank’s annual doings on the night of April 22. This year, the AYF Varak Chapter took on most of the organizing and did a pretty good job. The city council issued its annual proclamation. Then, instead of the traditional candlelight vigil, participants walked with lit (electronic) candles from city hall to the relatively new ACF – Burbank Beshir Mardirossian Youth Center some six blocks away for a rally and program. Attendance was among the highest in recent years at well over 300.
The day of the 24th was VERY full, since, like last year, I planned on going to five events. The first was the Armenian Hiking Association’s now-annual remembrance hike which almost doubled its participation this year. Ages ranged from pre-teen to mid-70s as 32 people hiked up to “seven-trees” in Glendale’s Brand Park and some brief words of reflection, self-evaluation, and invitation to action were spoken.
From there, it was a quick ride home (used my bicycle since the car was parked near the Turkish Consulate General of LA) to get cleaned up and catch a ride with a friend to the United Young Armenians’ annual Hollywood March, in which some 6000 people participated by my count. It was pretty standard fare. The rally at the end saw elected official and others speaking. One of the speakers had done some interesting math. Taking the per capita reparations received by Jews for the Holocaust, he had compiled a listing by city of how much Armenians should be paid for our losses. The figures were in the billions. But this event, too, is showing its age. It is certainly not bad, but when a significant portion of the participants either don’t go to the rally part or leave long before it’s done, you know there’s a problem. This march is an excellent program, but in need of some tweaking (more on this in a separate article).
From Hollywood, we drove to the Montebello Martyrs Memorial. Our activity, the program, and more so people driving in, solemnly laying flowers beside the eternal flame, and departing, was causing some fairly serious traffic in the vicinity. This is good and bad. It speaks to the numbers and draws attention to our being there, whereby our issues. On the downside, it can discourage our own community members from attending. Judging by my count and the number of flowers distributed, some 5000 people probably participated in this annual gathering, which is respectable, but down from the numbers achieved some three decades ago. What to do? (more on this in a separate article, too)
From Montebello, it was back to LA and the AYF’s demonstration at Wilshire and Crescent Heights, the location of the Turkish consulate. Close to 5000 people participated in this most relevant of our April 24th activities. Numbers have steadily increased over the past two decades, which is heartening. The rallying speakers were quite potent and fairly brief, as always. This is a very good point. But even this generally energetic event needs a boost. (more on this in a separate article, yet again).
From the demonstration, it was off to the event at the home of Mary Apick, which is covered in my other piece. It was Sunday April 27, three days on, before the next event I participated in, “Cycle Against Denial” organized by the AYF’s Sardarabad Chapter. I am very fond of this effort, since it is one which merges two interests—things Armenian and bikes—an approach that can be used in many couplings of Armenian and … insurance, swimming, medicine, swordsmanship, etc. (you might have noticed that each of these can have an additional thematic tie-in to genocide). But, participation has not increased. In fact, this year saw the lowest numbers yet, 75 (some people evidently didn’t like the fact that it was a slightly longer, though still very easy, route this time), despite the post-ride musical program (in Ferrahian School’s gym) and pizza. With just a little work, this could become a very effective publicity tool. (and for the last time, more on this in a separate article).
From the San Fernando Valley, it was off to the San Gabriel Valley and the ground-breaking ceremony for Pasadena’s Genocide memorial. Some 1000 people of all ages were present, not just from virtually all sectors of our community, but non-Armenians as well, and by that I mean something more than the elected and other officials we typically see at such gatherings. That’s an important sign of progress for me.
Now, it’s time to kick some butt with truly rousing activities next year on the 100th anniversary. Get busy! Let’s give the denialists in Ankara a serious lickin’.