Armenian Genocide Survivors Honored by Gov. Deval Patrick

BOSTON, Mass.—The Boston terrorist bombings may have taken a tragic toll on more than 300 victims and devastated the city’s metropolis in its wake. But it did little to deter the spirit behind the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick honored Nellie Nazarian, the last Armenian Genocide survivor in Merrimack Valley, with a special proclamation from the Commonwealth. Front, from left, Jirair Hovsepian, member, Greater Boston Commemorative Committee; Nellie Nazarian, 101; State Rep. Linda Campbell (D-Methuen/Haverhill) and State Rep. Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill). Rear, Rev. Dr. Vart Gyozalian, pastor, Armenian Church at Hye Pointe, Haverhill, and Debbie Nazarian, Haverhill, with whom she makes her home.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick honored Nellie Nazarian, the last Armenian Genocide survivor in Merrimack Valley, with a special proclamation from the Commonwealth. Front, from left, Jirair Hovsepian, member, Greater Boston Commemorative Committee; Nellie Nazarian, 101; State Rep. Linda Campbell (D-Methuen/Haverhill) and State Rep. Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill). Rear, Rev. Dr. Vart Gyozalian, pastor, Armenian Church at Hye Pointe, Haverhill, and Debbie Nazarian, Haverhill, with whom she makes her home.

True, a manhunt for the perpetrators resulted in the cancellation of a Statehouse Commemoration and shut down businesses for the day, turning the hub into a virtual ghost town.

But the remaining survivors of the Armenian Genocide are being remembered with proclamations issued by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Moreover, they are being delivered by “messengers” from the committee.

“It would have been nice to have the governor hand these proclamations to these survivors on the day of our commemoration,” said Jirair Hovsepian. “But other circumstances prevented that. So we are meeting with these survivors and making the presentation in the governor’s name. It’s much more personal that way.”

Hovsepian traveled 50 miles from Belmont to visit Nellie Nazarian with proclamation in hand. The 101-year-old survivor makes her home in Haverhill with granddaughter Debbie Nazarian, who has taken over the jewelry business started by her grandparents generations ago.

The event turned into a community-wide endeavor. Attending the home ceremony were two state representatives from Nellie’s district, Brian Dempsey, chairman, Committee on Ways and Means, and newly-elected Linda Campbell, both of whom presented the guest of honor with House resolutions.

 

A blessing was given by Rev. Fr. Vart Gyozalian, pastor, Armenian Church at Hye Pointe.

Despite her advanced age, Nellie attended the Merrimack Valley commemoration this year in North Andover with family members. She was also the object of everyone’s affection.

The statehouse commemoration was expected to attract some 500 guests, many of whom were prepared to walk the distance to the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the Armenian Heritage Memorial for a service, followed by lunch on the grounds.

“We’re hoping to visit as many survivors as we can to present these citations,” said Hovsepian. “It gets us to spend some quality time with them and meet their families. They really appreciate the visit.”

Hovsepian, who operates a photography business, will return to Nellie’s home with a video camera to document her history.

“With the centennial just around the corner, we’re making plans to bring the different communities together for one large observance,” he pointed out.

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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2 Comments

  1. I have a friend from Armenia and he had told me about the Armenian genocide. I appreciate the fact that the Armenian population is getting due compensation for the crime committed against them. If not yet, the grandchildren, they deserve due compensation for this crime.

  2. Thanks Anita for your kind and supportive message, but this is far from the due compensation that an ancient nation deserves for having been slaughtered en masse at the hands of and with the knowledge of it’s own government.

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