GRANITE CITY, Ill.—On Dec. 14, members of the Granite City Armenian community gathered at the St. Gregory Armenian Community Center to hear a presentation by Dr. Nerses Sarkissian, a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Central Committee of Syria and the Syrian Armenian Committee for Urgent Relief and Rehabilitation.
Sarkissian is touring the East Coast Armenian communities to raise awareness of the challenges facing the Syrian-Armenian community, as part of an emergency appeal for Syrian-Armenian relief initiated by the ARF Eastern Region Central Committee.
On behalf of the ARF “Hrayr” Gomideh, Steve Hagopian delivered the opening remarks and introduced Sarkissian. The event was organized by the “Aharonian” Gomideh together with the St. Gregory Armenian Church and the Holy Virgin Mary and Shoghagat Armenian Church. Der Torkom Chorbajian, pastor of St. Gregory Church, translated Sarkissian’s remarks.
Sarkissian said that although the war affects Syrian Armenians, it is also the pain of all Armenians. He explained that just as Syrian Armenians had supported Armenians worldwide during times of crisis, such as the 1988 earthquake, the Karabagh War, or the war in Lebanon, now it was time for Armenians worldwide to support them.
Sarkissian spoke about how the community leadership, and especially the Syrian Armenian Committee for Urgent Relief and Rehabilitation, continues to do its part in helping the Armenian population of Syria. “We help by distributing financial aid and services to those in need; we also stand guard and monitor areas heavily populated by Armenians, in order to ensure their safety,” he said.
“We try to make conditions such that our people can survive,” added Sarkissian. He also spoke about the determination of many Syrian Armenians to stay in the country and carry on their lives. “There have been several instances throughout history where the odds have been against the Armenian people, and at times, Armenians have been quick to retreat and surrender. This has not been the case for the Armenians of Aleppo and Syria,” he said.
The attendees listened with interest to Sarkissian’s presentation, which was followed by a question and answer period. Hagopian thankedSarkissian and the attendees, and invited guests to show their support by donating to the relief efforts.
Sarkissian has visited the Armenian communities in Worcester, Detroit, New York, Boston, Providence, Washington, DC, Chicago/Racine, and Granite City.