NEW YORK–Armenian-Americans from throughout New York gathered at the home of Chris and Lisa Parnagian on Monday–March 27 for a fundraising reception for one of the Armenian Cause’s strongest Congressional supporters–US Representative John Sweeney (R-NY).
The highlight of the event was a moving speech by the Congressman about his Armenian heritage and his devotion to Armenian issues. Reflecting on his own family’s experience–he noted that–"My grandfather Oscar–who survived the Genocide–would be deeply moved if saw me here today speaking with you–my people–about how we will work to see the Armenian genocide recognized. The greatest democracy in the world has an obligation to speak the truth about the enormous crime perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against our ancestors. I’m not resting until it does."
Also offering remarks during the evening were Chris Parnagian and Robert Setrakian–who co-chaired the event–Doug Geogerian representing the Armenian National Committee of America – Eastern Region (ANCA-ER)–ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian–and Antranik Boudakian–from the Friends of the ANC.
Co-chair Chris Parnagian–on behalf of his family–welcomed the Congressman–his wife Gayle–and daughter Kelly to their home–and shared his pride with all in attendance at the highly respected public service of a fellow Armenian-American. Robert Setrakian–who joined with his wife Silvia in co-chairing the program along with the Parnagians–noted that–"The Congressman’s record speaks of incredible integrity and of personal dedication. Our communities across the United States must support a fellow Armenian-American–who has accomplished so much in government." He added–"I’m sure grandfather Oscar would be incredibly proud today–and even prouder–if you one day became Co-chairman of the Armenian Caucus."
The ANC of New York–The Friends of ANC–and the National Organization of Republican Armenia’s (NORA) co-sponsored the reception.
"The community is so eager to support you–Congressman. You have done so much towards strengthening US-Armenia relations already. Please know that we stand ready to help you in anyway we can," said Friends of ANC representative Antranig Boudakian.
ANCA Regional Director Doug Geogerian reminded guests that–"Congressman Sweeney sits on the powerful Foreign Operations Subcommittee–which has overseen the appropriation of over a billion and a half dollars in aid to Armenia. As a Republican–he has been willing to forcefully challenge his party’s own leadership on their refusal to allow a vote on Armenian genocide legislation. As Armenian-Americans–we owe it our community–our cause–and our nation to provide Congressman Sweeney with our energetic support.
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian stressed how proud Armenian-Americans are that the Congressman–in addition to helping to secure increased aid to Armenia–continued aid to Karabagh–and military aid parity for Armenia and Azerbaijan–helped to write the legislation for the Millennium Challenge Account–which earlier that day granted $235 million to build roads and irrigation systems in rural Armenia. Hamparian urged all in attendance to encourage increased support for the Congressman as he rises in seniority and influence in the political system.
Among the community leaders form various organizations was the Very Reverend Father Anoushavan Tanielian–representing Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church–who was in Washington–DC for the signing at the State Department of a new foreign aid agreement with Armenia. Hrachia Tashchian–the Counselor for Armenia’s Mission to the UN–represented Ambassador Armen Martirosyan–who was unable to attend due to urgent diplomatic developmen’s.