Greater Washington Area Armenians Comemmorate Genocide

WASHINGTON—Armenian Americans from throughout the southern Maryland, northern Virginia, and the Washington, D.C. area joined together on April 18 at the Soorp Khatch Armenian Church Arabian Hall for the annual community commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, hosted by the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of Greater Washington.

Participants young and old gathered to remember the 1.5 million Armenians murdered by orders of the Ottoman Turkish government, honor the survivors, and recommit to efforts to secure justice for the Armenian Genocide.

The Greater Washington Homenetmen Armenian Scout troop color guard opened the program and escorted in honored guest, 105-year-old Armenian Genocide survivor Yeretsgeen Sirarpi Khoyan.

Keynote speakers of the day included ANCA Eastern Region Board member Aram Sarafian, Esq. and Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association Eastern U.S. Region Board member Dr. Aline Baghdassarian. Each focused on the role of continued community and political activism to raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide and vigilance to end the cycle of genocide—already seen in the 21st century with the ongoing atrocities in Darfur.

Talar Kachechian was the MC of the program, which included musical and cultural interludes presented by the Hamasdegh Armenian School students, who performed moving renditions of Taniel Varoujan’s “Terenig,” Gevorg Emin’s “Der Zor,” and Hovannes Shiraz’s “We Were Peaceful.” The Hamasdegh Chorus sang several songs including “Kedashen” and Chelsea Erchenian presented a PowerPoint presentation regarding the history of the Armenian Genocide, followed by a closing prayer offered by Soorp Khatch Church pastor, Rev. Father Sarkis Aktavoukian. Earlier in the day, Rev. Father Aktavoukian had led the congregation in a special Requiem Service in memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, attended by Tatoul Markarian, the Armenian ambassador to the U.S., and other Armenian Embassy staff.

The commemorative program was part of a series of activities organized by the local Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee of Greater Washington. Participating organizations include the Soorp Khatch Armenian Church Board of Trustees, Soorp Khatch Ladies Guild, Hamasdegh Armenian School, the ARF “Sebouh” Gomideh, and its sister organizations, including the local Armenian National Committee, Armenian Relief Society, Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association, Armenian Youth Federation Seniors and Juniors, and Homenetmen Armenian Athletic and Scouting Association. The Homenetmen had held a special program on April 16 marking the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, with songs and poetry presented by the Homenetmen Scouts and remarks offered by Armenian National Committee of America executive director Aram Hamparian.

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