ENCINO–More than 600 community members gathered Saturday–Sept. 20–to celebrate the sixth anniversary of the re-establishment of Armenian independence during a dinner-banquet at Ferrahian Armenian School’s Avedissian Hall.
An oath ceremony held prior to the banquet featured nine novices from Phoenix Arizona. The novices’ oath–along with the participation of longtime ARF members residing in Phoenix–marks the establishment of the Kevork Chavoush Chapter in Arizona. Stepan Kabadaian officiated the oath.
ARF Western US Central Committee member Krikor Achkian and ARF Bureau member Apo Boghigian spoke about the moral responsibilities of an ARF member–especially during these difficult times. They stressed the significance of serving the homeland and dying as an ARF member. Kabadaian presented the novices with the ARF coat of arms–and the ARF Rosdom Chapter presented them with copies of a book on ARF leader Karekin Njdeh.
Charles Lousararian delivered the keynote address and Hovig Krikorian–Nersig Ispirian–Narineh Shahbazian and Araxia Varteressian provided entertainment for the evening.
The banquet was sponsored by the ARF Western US Central Committee and organized by the Papken Suni Chapter.
On behalf of the Papken Suni Chapter–Shoushig Avakian–welcomed guests and commended the aforementioned nine novices.
The event officially began following pomp and circumstance carried out by Homenetmen’scouts and the Armenian national anthem was performed by Hovig Krikorian.
Keynote speaker Charles Lousararian–representing the Central Committee–spoke of the Armenian people’s long road to independence and the ARF’s leading role along that path. He spoke of contemporary realities in Armenia and the Diaspora. He cited the re-establishment of Armenia’s independence as the zenith of the struggle for independence.
"The initial step toward independence beginning with the 1988 Karabakh movement extended its roots to our entire Armenian nation. With exuberance we witnessed the Aug. 23–1990 declaration of independence followed by the September 1991 referendum," Lousararian said.
He pointed out that man has yearned for independence–freedom and self-determination since the beginning of time. That yearning has been more intense for more civilized and cultured peoples–such as the Armenia’s–who have not allowed its geographical and historical deterrents to deny them their right to freedom–and ability to live free from conquerors on their homeland–free and independent.
Lousararian pointed out that in that struggle–Armenian heroes have entered one-sided battles–destroyed enemies–and with partisan fighting have terrified armies. The speaker went on to point out that the 1915 Genocide and the May 28 Independence were pivotal points in modern Armenian history–and in particular–according to him–the spirit of May 28 was kept alive–even after the fall of the first Republic.
"Thanks to the ARF–the spirit and view of independence was kept alive and cultivated in the Diaspora–but also–that same spirit burnt well and alive in Soviet Armenia. For seventy long years–the idea of independence was nurtured by renowned intellectuals and by those who were imprisoned and sentenced to death because of it," said Lousararian.
He went on to speak about the liberation struggle in Soviet Republic–which soon led to the September independence. "On May 28–1988–70 years after the February Revolt–during a demonstration in Yerevan–the tri-color–for the first time–was raised on Armenian soil–and the Armenian people welcomed that same independence which is symbolized in the tri-color."
This–according to Lousararian–is how the reality of independence was re-born in the Homeland–and the September referendum was a testament to the will of the Armenian people.
The speaker noted the efforts of the ARF in Armenia–emphasizing its sacrifices for the gain of the Armenian nation. He said that the ARF–the most democratic of all Armenian political organizations must continue its work to ensure that the interests of the Armenian people are served.
Lousararian concluded his speech saying that today some six years after the re-establishment of independence–the Armenian nation faces numerous struggles. "Next to every victory–there have been defeats and next to every success–there have been failures–but time will heal everything–and it is then when we will strengthen our independence by enjoying true freedoms of the press–conscience and thought. And it is then when the Armenian nation will determine its own fate through democratic means–and it is then when the Armenian will once again live in Armenia in the plains of Ararat–and it is then when we will have free–united and independent Armenia," he said.
Upon the evening’s benediction by Rev. Viken Vasilian–the dinner and festivities began.