An Evening of Remembrance and Tribute to Our Fallen Heroes
BY HAGOP BADOLIAN
SANTA ANA—The most striking memory from the July 28 event honoring our fallen heroes was how intently everyone was listening to the speakers and presenters which took center stage one after the other. After all, the audience knew that this was not just another gathering. They knew that they were there to honor those countless men and women throughout our tumultuous history that sacrificed their most precious asset: their lives. The evening began with Talin Artinian welcoming the guests on behalf of the Armen Karo Gomideh and the Armenian Center Committee.
She stated that the reason for the gathering is to remember and celebrate the triumphant disciplinary act of the “Khanasor Arshavank”, and pay respect to the Lisbon 5 heroes, while on the other hand to raise funds for the maintenance and renovation of the Armenian Center, which serves as a home to Armenians in Orange County and over 100 youth. She reaffirmed the fact that in the Diaspora, Armenians are known to build and survive; we are known to stay true to our culture and literature and sing our sorrows and victories. With that she invited the keynote speaker of the evening.
The keynote speaker, Hovig Saliba, began his speech with a moment of silence, during which he read a representative list of names of the fallen heroes that spanned from the “Gugunian” march towards freedom to the liberation of Artsakh. In his speech, he presented the image of the Armenian Freedom fighter, their dedication to the Armenian cause, and their unwavering commitment to the advancement the Armenian cause.
Saliba bridged the gap from “Khanasor’s” disciplinary act against the Kurds to the sacrifice of the Lisbon Five and beyond by outlining the ideological, political, and social forces that gave hope and courage to our heroes to give their lives in order to revive the will in our people to fight and struggle on for the freedom of the Armenian people.
He concluded his remarks by pointing out that we are gathered here tonight as a family to remember and honor our “children,” the fallen heroes and embrace their legacy to carve our future. He stated that we are also here tonight to follow in their footsteps and that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation which remains the only viable organization; that the ARF inspired the many before us and continues to be at the forefront of our collective struggle; that the ARF will continue this movement until such day when we as a nation dock on the shores of prosperity and peace on a land that we’d like to call Free, Independent, and United Armenia.
Nora Injeian from the AYF Ashod Yergat chapter, in a very moving speech, echoed her late father’s, Vahe Injeian’s remarks that “the Armenian Center is our second home.” She stated that the Armenian Center is a symbol of our existence and therefore we have an obligation and a duty to preserve it.
Nora Gourdikian and Mher Zaher from the AYF Ashod Yergat chapter presented a slide show through which they recounted the historical facts of the “Khanasor” disciplinary expedition and the Lisbon Five heroic act. They reaffirmed the AYF’s commitment to stay true to their calling, and that the entire AYF in the Western United States has declared 2012 the year of the Freedom Fighter. As such, they have launched a massive campaign and various fundraisings to help families of our fallen heroes.
Alik Cherchian from the AYF Ashod Yergat chapter delivered to the audience the prelude to the Lisbon Five song written by Vicken Hovsepian. Araz Madenlian spoke next on behalf of the Aghpiur Serop Badanegan organization. In her remarks, she thanked the ARF Armen Karo Gomideh as well as their ARF advisors and the supporting AYF members for their dedication and commitment to the Badanees. She conveyed to the audience the pride and commitment of the Badanees and the leadership skills they learn by coming to the Armenian Center every Friday.
Nersig Inpirian then took over the stage and inspired everyone with his stories and patriotic songs, which reminded everyone of our sorrows and triumphs. But most importantly his songs surely touched the hearts of both young and old and it re-energized everyone’s will and commitment to step up, care, and preserve the community’s second home – our Armenian Center.
The next day, Sunday July 29, special requiem services were conducted at Forty Martyr’s Armenian church, where once again the community gathered to remember and honor the heroes of Lisbon 5 – Simon, Sarkis, Vatche, Ara, and Setrak.