GLENDALE–More than 200 friends of Congressman George Radanovich gathered at the Brandview Collection in Glendale as the Armenian National Committee of American – Western Region and the National Organization of Republican Armenia’s honored the Fresno Congressman as their 1999 Legislator of the Year.
After the invocation by Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church the evening’s masters of ceremonies–ANCA-WR Director of Development Ara Bedrosian–invited Glendale City Councilman Rafi Manoukian to welcome Congressman Radanovich to Glendale.
Manoukian emphasized the integral role the Armenian community in Fresno has played in the Diaspora and the emergence of such great Armenian Americans as William Saroyan. Manoukian credited Congressman Radanovich with contributing to Fresno’s proud tradition of service and achievement for the Armenian community and remarked that Fresno serves as a model for the Glendale Armenian community which will hopefully–one day soon–share a record of distinguished history of service with Fresno. Manoukian concluded his remarks by thanking the Congressman for serving as an inspiration to the many Armenian and non-Armenian supporters of the Armenian cause who aspire to political office.
ANCA-WR Executive Director Vicken Sonentz-Papazian then provided the audience with an overview of recent Hai Tahd activities–focusing on two areas in particular–the Section 907 restrictions of US assistance to Azerbaijan and Armenian Genocide initiatives. He thanked community benefactors Richard and Tina Carolan–for underwriting the genocide survivor photo exhibit that has since been on display in the Capitol Building in Washington– the State Capitol in Sacramento–California and the Los Angeles City Hall as well as in colleges and universities across the nation.
Sonentz-Papazian noted that–over the past several years–thanks in large part to members of Congress–the Turkish Government has shifted focus away from misinforming lawmakers on the Armenian Genocide issue and was putting greater emphasis toward schemes to rewrite history through American academia. To combat such efforts–he noted that the ANCA-WR successfully led the fight in California to secure a $99,000 allocation for updating the genocide and human rights curriculum that includes a section on the Armenian Genocide. This teaching guide will be made available to all of California’s secondary school teachers who will prepare secondary school students for a compulsory exit examination that will include a question about the Armenian Genocide.
Sonentz-Papazian also noted that–despite enormous challenges–the Armenian community has successfully defeated efforts to repeal section 907 restrictions of US aid to Azerbaijan. He gave credit for these victories to a strong grassroots effort and the tireless work of the ANCA-WR Washington interns–many of whom were in attendance for the evening.
Sonentz-Papazian observed that the Armenian community had entered a new stage of political development and participation in the American political system–as evidenced by the growing pool of talented Armenian Americans in attendance–like Rafi Manoukian– ready and able to assume public office.
Sonentz-Papazian also noted that underlining the successful efforts of the ANC are friends in Washington like Congressman Radanovich as well as a cadre of individuals who continually–without hesitation–sacrifice time and money in the pursuit of the Armenian Cause.
Sadly–he noted–one such individual–Professor Levon Karamanoukian–recently passed away–depriving the Armenian community of a respected and committed educator and lifelong advocate of the Armenian Cause. In a tribute to his memory–Sonentz-Papazian invited Bishop Mardirossian to the stage to make a presentation to his wife– Zepur Karamanoukian. Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian–presented a letter to Mrs. Karamanoukian–which revealed that a rare book of Armenian prayers translated into dozens of languages–had been donated to the Museum of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilcia in Antelias in memory of Professor Levon Karamanoukian.
In honor of the immense work done by Congressman Radanovich on behalf of both Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh–Bedrosian invited Hovig Mahserejian to the podium to make a presentation.
Mahserejian presented the Congressman with an Armenian rug–manufactured in the newly privatized Artsakh Rug factory in Stepanakert. On the decorative rug was depicted the famous "we are the mountains" statues that have come to symbolize the strength and perseverance of the people of Artsakh and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh’s Coat of Arms.
ANCA-WR Board Member Azita Avedissian next presented Congressman Radanovich with the 1999 ANC Legislator of the Year noting that honor was bestowed with heartfelt appreciation for the Congressman’s many contributions to the Armenian American community and the Armenian Cause.
In his remarks–Congressman Radanovich praised the work of his District Director Steven Samuelian for his diligence and knowledge of Armenian issues– which had proven invaluable in allowing him to effectively advocate issues in Congress on behalf of the Armenian community. Congressman Radanovich spoke passionately of his admiration for the Fresno Armenian community and the Armenian culture and thanked the ANC-Fresno delegation that made the trip to Glendale in order to participate in the event.
Congressman Radanovich also informed the crowd that he is one of the principal co-authors of the Armenian Genocide resolution that will help document the American historical record on the Armenian genocide and will stand as a principled and powerful statement against those who would deny the first genocide of the twentieth century.
Ara Bedrosian–who is leaving his full time job as Director of Development at the ANCA-WR to attend Law School at Pepperdine University–concluded the evening by delivering a moving speech that stressed the importance of continued vigilance and sacrifice in the pursuit of Hai Tahd. He noted that the success of Hai Tahd and the continued political growth of the Armenian community depend–in large part–on those Armenia’s who understand that their contributions are ongoing. He stated that–despite the fact that the ANC functions on a fraction of the immense budget of the Turkish and Azeri lobbies spend–thanks to the grassroots support of the community–significant accomplishmen’s have been realized. Bedrosian thanked Congressman Radanovich for his outstanding work on behalf of the Armenian community and the many friends and supporters in attendance for their unwavering support of the Armenian Cause.
Among the many distinguished guests in attendance were LA County Sheriff Lee Baca–Congressman Radanovich’s Chief of Staff John McCammon–State Republican Party representatives Stuart DeVeaux–Celeste Greig and Patrick Moyer as well as representatives of Rep. James Rogan–State Sen. Adam Schiff and Assemblyman Scott Wildman.