–MA State Rep. Peter Koutoujian; Gwen Graham Among Special Guests
–Sen. Graham Set to Cosponsor Genocide Resolution (S.Res.164)
FORT LAUDERDALE–Over 200 Armenian Americans from South Florida’s Tri-County area (Dade–Broward–and Palm Beach counties) donned "Armenia’s for Kerry" and "Armenstock 2004" t-shirts and danced the evening away at the Las Olas Riverfront Sunday–in support of John Kerry’s presidential bid–reported the Armenian National Committee of Florida.
The concert–organized as part of the nationwide "Kef for Kerry Tour of Battleground States," featured the Cascade Folk Trio and included special guests–Massachusetts State Representative Peter Koutoujian–Gwen Graham–daughter of US Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) representing the Kerry/Edwards Campaign–and ANCA Government Affairs Director Abraham Niziblian.
Between musical sets–Gwen Graham reminded the attendees about the Democratic Presidential candidate’s strong record on Armenian American concerns and read a special message from Sen. Kerry to the Florida Armenian community. In the letter–Sen. Kerry restated his commitment to proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide. "I want to assure you–as President–I will continue to fight against denial of the Armenian Genocide," explained Sen. Kerry.
Following cheers from the crowd–Graham went a step further to announce that her father–Sen. Bob Graham–has also pledged to co-sponsor the Genocide resolution–S.Res.164–making him the first Florida Senator to support a similar initiative. Introduced by Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ)–S.Res.164 marks the 15th anniversary of the US implementation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. With the addition of Sen. Graham–the legislation will have 41 cosponsors.
State Representative Peter Koutoujian (D-MA) electrified the crowd–making a compelling case for Armenian-Americans and all Americans to cast their vote for the Kerry/Edwards ticket. "John Kerry has been a true friend to Armenian-Americans. Whether it has been fighting for recognition of the Armenian Genocide or providing for Karabagh’s security–Senator Kerry deserves our vote based on his impeccable record," said Koutoujian. He charismatically emphasized the importance of voting and especially voting for Senator John Kerry–whose twenty years of support for Armenian issues earned him an unequivocal endorsement from the Armenian National Committee of America.
"On behalf of the Florida Armenian community–we would like to thank Sen. Graham for his principled stand in support of the Genocide resolution," stated ANC of Florida Chairman Bedo Der-Bedrossian. "As we approach the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide–we look forward to working with the Florida Senate and House delegation in the 109th Congress to ensure proper US reaffirmation of this crime against humanity. We also greatly appreciate Representative Koutoujian’s participation in our Kef for Kerry event. During his two day stay dedicated to rallying Armenian-Americans behind John Kerry–he has attended numerous community events and significantly strengthened the ANC of South Florida’s effort to get out the Armenian vote."
Community support for the evening was tremendous–primarily due to a far-reaching internet and e-mail campaign and traditional canvassing by Florida ANC activists. Armenian Americans throughout South Florida–both active and new to community affairs–attended the gathering. "I am very happy you found my name," said Florida Atlantic University student Karina Azrumova.
"We were thrilled by the turnout of this wonderful event and look forward to expanding our outreach to all facets of the Florida Armenian community as we work to advance the issues of concern dear to our hearts," concluded Bedo Der-Bedrossian.
Billed as the Armenian version of Bruce Springsteen’s "Vote for Change" tour–the "Kef for Kerry Tour of Battleground States" visited Wisconsin–Michigan–Florida–and Pennsylvania during the final three weeks of October. Modeled after Armenstock 2004–each stop on the tour combines a single musical performance with a political program designed to generate enthusiasm among young activists and bring in hundreds of new fellow passengers onto the Armenia’s for Kerry bandwagon. The battleground states chosen for the Tour have sizable Armenian communities and are expected to play a pivotal role in the outcome of the presidential election this year. For more information about the Kef for Kerry Tour of Battleground States–visit: www.kefforkerry.com.
The Kef for Kerry tour is made possible by a generous contribution from Dr. Carolann and K. George Najarian.