BY RAFFI HAMPARIAN
Idaho resident and Korean war veteran Johnny Kazian has never met financial professional Meri Davitian from Pasadena, California, who herself was born in the Republic of Armenia.
Dr. Kohar Der Simonian from San Francisco, who was born and raised in the State of Maine, is not even Facebook friends with Hriyr Dadaian, a native son of Iowa, who currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with his lovely wife Jacqueline. And Paul Jamushian from Fresno, California has never had the welcome opportunity to speak to Loyola Law School graduate Vache Thomasian who recently left his hometown of Los Angeles to enroll at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York City.
These proud Armenian Americans, while not knowing each other, do know that they share something very special in common with countless Armenian Americans like them across our great country. They are part of the Armenian National Committee of America’s (ANCA) big tent.
The ANCA’s big tent is an open arena, welcoming people of all different political persuasions and personal histories. Young and old, rich and poor, new-arrivals and long-time Americans. We are all Armenian-Americans. From every corner of the earth, with ideas as diverse as the world we live in, but united, in the ANCA’s big tent. We are bound by the common-sense principle that, from this common ground, we can, working together, advance the Armenian Cause in the United States.
Johnny, Meri, Kohar, Hriyr, Paul and Vache, and so many others believe in the ANCA because our organization embraces a core principle of our American democracy. Petitioning our government is not only a Constitutional right but also a true moral obligation. In both word and action, they see themselves as true citizen stakeholders in the American enterprise. From the ANCA”s national headquarters in Washington, DC, to its regional offices and local chapters from Boise, Idaho to Richmond, Virginia – they are part of a great grassroots network, in the best of the American democratic tradition.
For those of you on Facebook, you may have seen that the ANCA recently posted its policy priorities to its 40,000 friends (and many others). This policy agenda clearly illustrates our big tent agenda, an agenda that has united tens of thousands of Armenian Americans, mobilizing them to take action on the core, consensus issues of concern to our community. This is what the ANCA stands for:
– A new generation of talented, motivated, and educated Armenian Americans, who, with the help of the ANCA’s innovative Capital Gateway Program for college graduates and the Leo Sarkisian Summer Internship Programs for current college students, prepare individuals interested in starting government, media, public policy, and political careers in Washington, DC and around the nation.
– A powerful Armenian American Diaspora, confident in its identify and influence (through ANCA voter registration drives) that, in support of our shared views and values, undertakes broad-based, innovative, effective, and result-oriented outreach and engagement with government, business, academia, media, and the rest of American civil society.
– A truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide, the still unpunished crime against humanity that nearly destroyed the entire Christian population of the Ottoman Empire, and that, to this day, remains denied by an unrepentant Turkish government.
– The full return, to their rightful owners, of Armenian, Greek and all other Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties stolen or illegally confiscated by the Turkish government.
– Bilateral development aid and economic initiatives, in particular trade, tax, and investment agreements and treaties, to promote a stronger, more prosperous, and more democratic Armenia, and a more robust U.S.-Armenia economic, political, cultural, development, and military relationship, based on common values and shared interests.
– A secure, prosperous, and independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, whose citizens deserve the same liberties that we enjoy as Americans, including the right to live as free citizens, safe from Azerbaijani aggression, under a democratic government of their own choosing.
– An economically sustainable Javakhk region of Georgia, and respect and legal safeguards for the civic, human, cultural, language, and religious rights of Georgia’s sizable Armenian minority.
– U.S. support for the rights and welfare of Armenians and other Christian minorities in the Middle East, including immediate, targeted funding for relief and resettlement programs for Armenians and other Christians in Syria.
Whether you are passionate about all these issues, or even just one, the ANCA welcomes you to our big tent, and invites you to bring friends and family with you as we grow our community and advance our common cause. There is room for all, and a place for each and every Armenian-American and friend of Armenia.
There is, perhaps, no better example of the ANCA’s big tent approach than the town hall meetings we have held in Nevada, Idaho and California in the last several weeks and the many more ANCA town hall gatherings being planned in Arizona and dozens of other states in the weeks and months to come.
So, come on in the ANCA’s big tent.
Please visit us online at www.anca.org, on facebook at www.facebook.com/ancagrassroots or via twitter at: @anca_dc. If the internet is not your thing, please directly contact an ANCA regional office or the local ANCA chapter in your area.
Raffi Hamparian is a member of the national Board of Directors for the Armenian National Committee of America.