WARWICK, R.I.—The Providence Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Kristapor gomidehoutiun celebrated the 126th Anniversary of the ARF at the Harbor Lights Marina and Country Club overlooking Narraganset Bay on Dec. 3.
The Master of Ceremonies, unger Hrag Arakelian, introduced the chairman of the Providence ARF, unger Hagop Donoyan, who thanked the 150 guests for attending and outlined the evening’s program. A short moment of silence was requested for two recent fallen ungers—Tom Vartabedian of Haverhill, Mass. and Ara Demirdjian, ARF Bureau’s Executive Director.
The national anthems of the United States and Armenian and Mshag Panvor were sung by ungerouhies Dalita Getzoyan, Taleen Donoyan, and Menar Tarpinian, respectively.
Der Hayr Kapriel Nazarian, pastor of Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church, provided words of encouragement to the organization for playing a prominent role in our community throughout the decades and blessed the dinner which was to be served. He spoke of warrior Vardan Mamikonian with Father Ghevont by his side in the large mural that adorns the back wall of the church. Father Ghevont has been called the soul of the movement of Christian resistance. Der Kapriel, like all of the church’s priests before him, vowed to continue to stand side by side with the ARF as the new spiritual leader of the Providence community.
The room was decorated with wall murals of photos from the ARF family of organizations—the Armenian Relief Society (ARS), the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), Homenetmen, and Hamazkayin; for therein lies the strength of the ARF in this and all communities where Armenians reside all over the world. A slideshow of fedayees (freedom fighters) from the days of the past to local dedicated ungers who have passed was on display throughout the evening.
Five members of the sister organizations were then called to the dais to be recognized for their service to our community. The honorees included ungerouhi Rita Minassian (AYF), ungerouhi Maggie Madarentz (Hamazkayin) who was absent due to illness, ungerouhi Karen Pilla (ARS), yeghpayr Sarkis Minassian (Homenetmen), and ungerouhi Seta Tarpinian (ARS).
The guest speaker of the evening, unger Mourad Topalian of Los Angeles, California, is a prominent member of the Armenian community in the United States. He is a former Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), whose involvement with ANCA began in 1976.
Topalian was asked to share his thoughts on the current standing and activities of the organization and what can be done to strengthen Armenia. He spoke proudly of the impact the ARF has had all over the world from its inception to present day.
Topalian was especially encouraged by the defense of our lands during the April War in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh/NKR) and by the inroads the ARF has made in the Armenian government, especially and including the work of the three ARF Ministers and the recent establishment of a 1000-man National Guard. Recognizing that all governments have challenges and Armenia is no different from what we see all over the world—including the United States—he feels strongly that the ARF and its supporters must make every possible effort to work with and become part of the government in Yerevan. Topalian stressed that necessary changes must be made from within the Armenian government, and that changes from the outside can only lead to dangerous outcomes.
Topalian stated that it is a God-given right to be free and that we must do all we can as a diaspora to defend our lands. He spoke of the annexation of Artsakh and hopefully of someday freeing Javakhk and Nakhichevan as well.
Topalian said that he felt honored to be in Providence had strong words of praise for the Providence community led by the ARF. He particularly praised the work of the Armenian National Committee of R.I., which he feels is the model ANC chapter in the nation.
The traditional momavaroutioun (cake lighting) then took place to help raise funds for the organization. Unger Hagop Donoyan announced to the crowd that the Providence ARF Kristapor chapter is donating $1,000 to aid in Syrian relief efforts.
Sevag Khachadourian, Martin Haroutunian, and Shahan Nercessian performed Armenian patriotic songs. The gathering listened to and joined in singing the inspiring ARF revolutionary and patriotic songs throughout the remainder of the evening.
Unger Mourad arrived on the East Coast in the evening of Dec. 2 and was greeted at Logan Airport by several Providence ARF members. They proceeded to the community center in Providence, where he presented a lecture to the Providence AYF. Immediately following, a khrakjank (social gathering) took place in the ARF office, creating an opportunity to enjoy an ungergan (social) gathering with food and drink, while sharing great memories and hopes for the future.