GLENDALE—The 20th anniversary of the re-establishment of Armenia’s Independence was celebrated at a gathering organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee on Wednesday at the St. Mary’s Church courtyard, where 2,000 community members gathered to mark the momentous occasion.
The Homenetmen scouts, led by the marching band paraded on Central Avenue with tri-colors in hand and made an impressive entrance into the courtyard and were greeted by thunderous applause from the audience.
Behind them was the ARF Badanegan (Juniors) Chorus, whose members were divided into three groups wearing red, blue and orange t-shirts, which once converged on stage became the tri-color of Armenia.
The mood was festive as several singers and artists performed and the crowd was treated to traditional Armenian dances from the Hamazkayin “Ani” and “Zavartnots” dance troupes. Among the performers were Hovhannes Shahbazyan, Element Band, Gagik Badalyan, Gevork Chakmanyan, Armen Movsisyan and recitation by Nune Avetisyan.
Keynote speakers Hovan Tashjian and Raffi Hamparian presented remarks on the meaning of independence in Armenian and English respectively.
Below is the text of remarks presented by Hamparian at the event.
This day belongs to Armenian heroes.
To the farmer who feeds our nation.
To the mother who cares for our young.
To the teacher who educates our students.
To the baby who represents our future.
To the worker who builds our roads.
To the freedom fighter who gave us our Independence.
And yes – this day also belongs to you.
Here in America – in this nation– on our July 4th – our independence was born of a fight.
A fight against oppression. A fight against tyranny.
And a fight FOR the American Dream.
Citizens – from George Washington – to the Minuteman soldier in Massachusetts won independence by risking everything.
Their social status.
Armenia’s independence – now 20 years old – will be more brilliant, more genuine, when its leaders govern with this same spirit.
By willing to lose everything – Armenia’s leaders can gain everything for the Nation.
They can achieve – with your support – the Armenian Dream for all Armenians.
Yet – twenty years after Armenia regained its Independence – some have mistaken the meaning of this wonderful Independence Day.
Some have viewed our new found independence as a license, as a freedom:
Freedom to steal.
Freedom to rob.
Freedom to pillage.
Freedom to monopolize.
Freedom to sell out our national cause.
Freedom from the Rule of Law.
We know – here in Los Angeles and in the homeland – that Armenia’s Independence – is fragile.
We also know – in our hearts and in our minds – that twenty years on – Armenia needs a housecleaning.
We need to open our nation’s windows – to let fresh air in.
We need to open our nation’s curtains – to let the sun in.
We need to open our nation’s doors – to let new people in
Here in America we can encourage this housecleaning by declaring this.
Our national Independence – today and forever – belongs not to a few.
Not to the oligarch.
Not to the rich.
Not to the dirty politician.
Armenia’s Independence belongs to you.
Our Independence belongs to the majority – a MORAL MAJORITY in Armenia and in the Diaspora.
A moral majority that is waiting – perhaps too patiently – for the fruits of Independence.
The freedom born of Independence.
The prosperity born of Independence.
The unity born of Independence.
A moral majority who believe that our Nation’s best days are ahead of us.
A moral majority who want to do good, be good.
This majority is who we are.
This majority is who you are.
This is our destiny.
And the truth is – our Independence will not be fully realized until all the people of Armenia have the right and freedom to pursue their very own Armenian Dream.
And that Armenian Dream will not simply appear one day.
It will not be handed to us. Granted to us. Delivered to us. Assigned to us. Emailed to us, Faxed to us, FedExd to us.
We. Together. United.
With people of good will – of all political persuasions, from all backgrounds, of all ages, rich and poor alike.
We will have to force the spring to achieve the Armenian Dream.
And in so doing – we will honor the heroes of Armenia’s Independence – the farmer, the solider, the teacher, and the mother.
Getseh Azad, Angakh yev Miatsial Haiastan.