Homenetmen Western Region’s 43rd Annual Navasartian Games came to an end on Saturday, July 7, 2018 with the traditional parade of scouts and athletes before thousands of spectators.
Official guests in attendance during the closing ceremony included His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian; Consul Armella Shakaryan; California State Senator Anthony Portantino; Glendale City Mayor Zareh Sinanyan and Councilmember Vrej Agajanian; Homenetmen Central Executive Member Vicken Tavitian; Regional Executive members; ARF Central Committee member Garo Ispendjian; Honorary Presidents Mr. & Mrs. Hamlet and Greta Chraghchian; Exemplary Homenetmen Member Koko Balian; representatives of sister organizations including ARS, Hamazkayin, the Western Prelacy Executive Council, and ANCA Western Region; alongside previous honorary presidents, exemplary members, and supporters. Also present was 91-year-old Homenetmen member Zakar Chorbajian, who despite his health condition, wanted to ensure that he was present during the Navasartian closing ceremony on the year of the organization’s 100th anniversary.
The field was decorated with large-scale photos of Homenetmen founders Shavarsh Krisian, Krikor Hagopian, and Hovhannes Hintlian, as well as the American, Armenian, and Homenetmen flags.
Prior to the start of the parade, the “Heqiatn e Kanchum” group presented a variety of children’s and national songs and dances, creating an enjoyable atmosphere on the field.
Shortly afterward, the Western Prelate, Honorary President, and Exemplary Homenetmen Member entered the field, accompanied by Regional Executive Chairperson Manuel Marselian and a group of scouts. Three individuals jumped out of a helicopter bearing the American, Armenian, and Navasartian flags. Immediately thereafter, the flag ceremony was held with participation of the Homenetmen band, which played the American, Armenian, and Homenetmen anthems.
Masters of Ceremonies Sevag Garabedian and Nora Chaparian invited spectators to observe a moment of silence in memory of departed Homenetmen members, as well as the four Homenetmen members who were martyred during the Artsakh liberation struggle.
California State Senator Anthony Portantino delivered a speech commending Homenetmen for its role in the healthy upbringing of youth, applauded the region’s new “Hrashq” program, and presented a state declaration to Chairperson Marselian.
Thereafter, Regional Executive member Sako Garabedian read a congratulatory message received from President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkissian.
Chairperson Manuelian ascended to the stage and extended welcoming remarks to all guests on behalf of the Regional Executive. He stated, “I extend honor and respect to all Homenetmen members, chapters, the Navasartian Organizing Committee, parents, and everyone. Through your collective work, the Navasartian Games are the largest and most organized athletic initiative in the Diaspora.” He informed that this year is not only Homenetmen’s 100th anniversary, but also the 50th anniversary of the organization’s establishment in the Western United States. “Through the course of 50 years, we currently have 19 chapters with 6,500 members,” he stated.
He explained that, although Homenetmen comes from the past, it has a stable future with a vision aimed at educating youth to become model Armenian citizens. He cited the new “Hrashq” program for special needs youth and how this year’s Navasartian games had sporting events specifically for these youth.
Chairperson Marselian also informed about the new “Abaka/Future” Program, which is intended to bring together families comprised of young Homenetmen members.
Thereafter, the Honorary Presidents Mr. & Mrs. Hamlet and Greta Chraghchian were presented, as well as Exemplary Homenetmen Member Koko Balian. Chairperson Marselian emphasized their decades of dedication to the organization and concluded by saying, “It is thanks to those like Hamlet Chraghchian and Koko Balian that the Navasartian Games and our year-round programs can be successfully carried out and the organization flourishes. It is thanks to those like them that Homenetmen has survived for 100 years and will continue to grow in the years to come.”
Remarks were then delivered by Homenetmen Central Executive member Vicken Tavitian, who congratulated the organization’s 100th anniversary and its 50 years of work and activities in the western region. Reflecting on the secret to Homenetmen’s success, he cited two words: Continuity and Change. “Each generation continued the work of its predecessors, while at the same time initiating new work, programs, and activities through their vision,” he explained. He gave the Honorary President and Exemplary Homenetmen Member as examples, who have not only continued the work of their predecessors, but have also been guided by a new vision for the future. “Yes, it is the result of continuity and change that Homenetmen has become successful. From an honorable past to a victorious future, this would be the motto of Homenetmen’s 100th anniversary,” he stated. Tavitian concluded by explaining that the Navasartian celebrations and the entire Homenetmen family comprised of 30,000 individuals, attest to the fact that members remain faithful to the will and vision of Homenetmen’s founders, as well as to the organization’s motto of ‘Elevate Yourself and Others With You.’ “May the second century of Homenetmen be consistent with the new successes of our homeland and the organization serve as a significant part of the path to rebuilding the homeland,” he stated.
The final remarks of the official program were delivered by Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, who conveyed the blessings of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I and thanked God for the celebration of the 100th anniversaries of the First Republic of Armenia and Homenetmen.
The Prelate noted the parallel between the births of the First Republic and Homenetmen, emphasizing the will of our people. He stated, “The organization remains youthful through its members, executives, athletes, and supporters. It has the power to keep all those under its wings young and firmly keeps within them faith, will, dedication, and love toward the Armenian Church, the Armenian people, and Motherland.”
Archbishop Mardirossian welcomed this year’s Honorary President and Exemplary Homenetmen Member. He concluded by acknowledging athletes, scouts, and parents. “May the Navasartian parade and its victories be an honor for us all and fill our hearts and souls with pride,” stated the Prelate.
Parade of Athletes and Scouts
Following the Prelate’s remarks, the traditional parade began, which was led by the Homenetmen marching band. Regional Scoutmaster Sharlene Ghozalian received official permission from Chairperson Marselian to begin the parade.
“Hrashq” youth were the first to enter onto the field, accompanied by caretakers and parents. These adolescents and children filled the entire stadium with a tsunami of joy. The thousands of spectators stood in unison and welcomed the youth onto the field with great applause. Joy, innocence, and enthusiasm were gleaming through the faces of these youth as they marched onto the field.
Next onto the field were 180 scouts of Homenetmen Western Region, who will be participating in the Pan-Homenetmen Jamboree in Armenia in the coming days. The scouts stood before the honorable guests and welcomed them with a scouting greeting. The Jamboree has been organized on the occasion of Homenetmen’s 100th anniversary.
The Masters of Ceremonies introduced each chapter one by one while their respective athletes, scouts, and executives marched onto the field.
The large group of Homenetmen Glendale “Ararat” Chapter members walked onto the field and, when arriving before the honorary guests, presented a souvenir to Honorary Presidents Mr. & Mrs. Hamlet and Greta Chraghchian, given the fact that the Honorary President has served the Ararat Chapter for years.
Spectators also broke out in applause when the Los Angeles Chapter presented a souvenir to Exemplary Homenetmen Member Koko Balian, who has served in their chapter for decades.
While the band continued to play Armenian national songs, chapters continued the parade with their members, young and old, elder executives, as well as youthful scouts and athletes, many of them marching with their trophies.
Each chapter was greeted with enthusiasm by spectators and the parade lasted approximately one hour.
At the end of the parade, Varant Avanessian, a member of the youth division, sang a variety of songs, accompanied by a show of fireworks.
The Homenetmen Regional Executive held a special reception for all official guests after the parade.
The Navasartian festival continued with celebration on the grounds until midnight.