Special for the Armenian Weekly
BOSTON, Mass. (A.W.)—The Armenian community joined state legislators and guests for the 33rd Massachusetts State House Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. The commemoration, which took place on the morning of April 21 in the House Chamber, included a program of speakers, music, and honorees with Representative David Muradian serving as the Master of Ceremonies.
Following a procession of the Sergeant-at-Arms, elected officials, and the reverend clergy, led by the Homenetmen Scouts, the program began with an invocation by Pastor Joseph Garabedian of the First Armenian Church of Belmont, Mass., the Pledge of Allegiance by Representative Dave Rogers, and the singing of the Armenian and American National Anthems by the students of St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School.
Welcoming remarks were delivered by Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert A. Deleo. He thanked all those who had done tremendous work for the Armenian community in the state of Massachusetts. He also mentioned the release of the film The Promise to signify how far the Armenian community has come since surviving the genocide.
“We must ensure that the human spirt outshines inhumanity,” said Deleo. “Today’s commemoration will help us do just that that.”
The keynote address was delivered by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Healey, after thanking the organizers, stressed that the Armenian Genocide was of the darkest periods in our history. She said that although genocide took place, it led to a thriving community being formed in the United States with various young Armenians participating in different fields.
“As Attorney General, I also know the importance of calling out crimes for what they are and holding perpetrators accountable,” said Healey. “It’s why it’s so shameful for anyone or any country to refuse to recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
She added that denial must fuel all advocates of human rights and those fighting for justice to continue and pursue their struggle. While discussing American initiatives in Armenia, she stated that she was proud that American resources are being utilized to support Armenia. She also discussed the situation in Syria and how years ago, it was a place of refugee, but now Syrians are experiencing some of the same treatment as Armenians did over 100 years ago.
After Senator Will Brownsberger delivered his remarks commending the Armenian community for all their work, Representative David Muradian presented the Governor’s proclamation for the 102nd Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. The proclamation declared April 24, 2017 as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.
Then, joint senate/house resolutions were presented to former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn as well as to the co-chairs of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration Committee, Anthony Barsamian, Jim Kalustian, and Dr. Ara Nazarian for their activism. Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration Committee Co-chair Lalig Musserian presented the resolutions and delivered a few words about the other chairs. She then invited Anthony Barsamian to say a few words on behalf of the co-chairs.
Those in attendance also gave special recognition to the special guests, elected officials, and the two genocide survivors that were in attendance at the commemoration.
Representative James Miceli, who introduced the musical performers, spoke of his mother’s Armenian lineage and how he would spend his summers at his Armenian grandmother’s house. It was through this time that he became well educated about Armenian history and culture and gained a sense of appreciate for where his ancestors came from.
“One of the things my grandmother emphasized was the genocide and from a very early age I was aware of it,” said Miceli. “Those were the days that I treasure.”
The musical performances included guitarist and composer from the Berklee College of Music John Baboian and vocalist Mary Galstian. Both delivered inspiring and successful performances that highlighted the beauty of the Armenian culture.
The musical performance was followed by updates on the memorial scholarship program for the late George Keverian, the former Massachusetts Speaker of the House. His niece Nairi Keverian was present to discuss the work of her uncle and the impact he had in government, in the Armenian community, and on her.
“With my uncle’s undeniably selfless character and his incredible passion for helping others, he hoped to inspire generations to come,” said Nairi Keverian. She discussed the role of the scholarship in upholding his legacy and inspiring young Armenians in the community.
The commemoration event was concluded with the closing remarks of representative David Muradian and the benediction and closing prayers by Rev. Archpriest Antranig Baljian of St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church. An informal reception followed at the Great Hall of Flags.