BY DR. SERJIK NAZARIAN
From Sedoona in the north to Tuscon in the south of Arizona–Armenia’s of all ages–political and religious beliefs–all social and political organizations gathered in Phoenix–Arizona to mark the 84th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. We commemorated the Martyrs and survivors who suffered and witnessed the worst crime to humankind at the hands of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenia’s. More than 1.5 million Armenia’s were murdered–and half of our nation and most of our lands were annihilated in the first part of this century.
By trying to bring closure to this non-forgettable atrocity committed by Turkey against our nation in the twentieth century and carrying the flames into the new millennium–the Arizona community came together like never before and gave and extravagant program for the community. In order to keep the flame alive and strong in our people’s hearts–particularly in our youth–for the next century and to bring justice for Armenian people and let our Martyrs rest in peace and to put an end to our mourners’ grief–we must have that government of Turkey admit to this atrocity committed by the Young Turks and return our lands to our people.
On Saturday–April 24th the boy and girl scouts of Phoenix Homenetmen chapter held a vigil at the Armenian Martyrs’ memorial monument in downtown Phoenix near the state capital. The scouts performed the flag ceremony and presentation of the memorial wreath in front of the monument–sang some patriotic songs–and were followed by Gabi Khorie–chairman of the Homenetmen local chapter–with his heart warming message. With "Hayr Mer," the ceremony came to a close.
The scouts proceeded to a packed–standing room only–Armenian Cultural Center for an evening of events organized by the April 24th committee. The group consisted of the Armenian Apostolic church of Arizona–the ARS "Ararat" Saturday school lead by Nalli Nazigian–the Armenian language school directed by Suzie Grigorians–the Hye Ways group headed by Victoria Manoogian–the Armenian Ladies Society–Armenian Cultural Society of Tuscon–ARF "Kevork Chavoush" Gomideh–ACYO and the Phoenix Homenetmen boy and girl scouts.
The program opened with the ACYO’s children flooding the stage and displaying a sad and dark scene with a very eerie feeling of a village during the Genocide–choreographed by Anahid Mikailian–followed with a moment of silence in observance of our martyrs. Grigorians–the Mistress of Ceremonies–opened the program by welcoming the audience and describing the night’s event. The program consisted of a very elegant dance–"Lamentation Dance," which brought tears to eyes–performed by the ACYO girls–the patriotic song "Kedashen," was performed by Homenetmen’scouts and Arizona Armenian Youth joined in the singing of "Mshetsi Mor Yerk."
Noushig Simonian-Hazelton gave a true historical presentation regarding the leaders to implement the same plan that made other people to become victim and suffer the consequence of mass genocide.
Many of the poems were recited by the children of both Armenian schools–as well as "Dance of Sassoon," recited by Sofie Boyadjian. Prior to closing the program for the evening the entire audience stood to join the youth in singing of "Mer Hayrenik," followed by prayer and a message from Rev. Tavit Zelveyan.
On the morning of April 25–the people and streets of Phoenix witnessed for the first time Armenian marchers demonstrating with banners and signs in hand. Escorted by Phoenix police–the procession passed through the streets of Phoenix for two miles to the state capital and the Armenian Martyrs’ monument. The silent procession was led by the Homenetmen’scouts color guard followed by more than 300 Armenia’s–while the scouts sand and chanted Armenian songs.
Upon completion of the march–people congregated around the monument–and all the participating organizations laid a wreath in front of the monument. Bardake ceremony was performed by Rev. Father Tavit Zelveyan. The master of ceremonies Berj Manoogian started the program by welcoming the people. Victoria Manoogian read a proclamation issued by Governor Jene Dee Hall–Governor of the state of Arizona and a second proclamation from the Interior Ministry of the state or Arizona.
Presentations were made by Krikor Achigian a guest of honor on behalf of "Kevork Chavoush" Gomideh–and Noushik Simonian Hazelton on behalf of the Phoenix community. Very heart-touching poetry was recited by Jenik Nazarian–"Keycheng bayts Hay yenk" by Baryur Sevak–and Armineh Nazigian–"Ghoghanch Aksori," Varouj Agnerian sang the beautiful "Vokerk Nahadagats." The Homenetmen’scouts gave their official five clap applaud prior to the closing of the ceremony by Rev. Father Tvit Zelveyan.
With this year’s commemoration program–we brought the twentieth century to a close. The Armenia’s have not yet reached their goal that was laid ahead of them when Turkey started the massacre and annihilation of our nation. Turkey has attempted to silence us with any modalities available to them but have not succeeded–They have tried creating friction amongst us but have failed. And they have tried to enforce their religion upon us but our church is stronger today than ever.
The united program in which we all participated demonstrates how a nation can come together and put aside personal differences and start to clear the agenda and plan goals as one nation. Achieving our goals will require strong perseverance that can only be successful if we all become united and hope for a prompt resolution in the early part of the new century that is upon us.