By Joyce Yeremian
PROVIDENCE, R.I.—On April 23, the Armenian Martyrs’ Memorial Committee of Rhode Island commemorated the 102nd Anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide and celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the dedication of the Armenian Martyrs’ Memorial Monument at the entrance to North Burial Ground in Providence.
The program opened with the presentation of the flags by the Homenetmen Scouts and with placing of wreaths by the Armenian Church Youth Organziation of America (ACYOA), The Armenian Relief Society ARS “Arax” and “Ani” chapters, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Providence Kristapor gomideh, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) “Varantian” chapter, the Homentmen Providence chapter, the Hamazkayin Providence chapter, and the Daughters of Vartan in front of the monument.
Archpriest Rev. Gomidas Baghsarian and Rev. Kapriel Nazarian, Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church., Rev. Shnorik Souin, Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church, Rev. Dr. Ara Heghinian, and Reverend Hagop Manjelikain Armenian Evangelical Church performed a special service in memory of the 1.5 million Holy Martyrs.
The combined choirs from the Armenian churches and chorale sang our Armenian hymns under the direction of Maestro Konstantin Petrossian. The elected officials who were present each gave their messages. They were, Governor Gina M. Raimondo, Congressman David N. Cicilline and Congressman James R. Langevin. Bringing the Greetings of the City of Providence was Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. Katherine Kazarian, State Representative, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, General Treasurer, Seth Magaziner were also present.
All of state and federal officials of Rhode Island are always actively working for the Armenian cause. They all expressed concern about Turkeys’ denial of the genocide and to what is happening in Artsakh today. Former lawmaker and great supporter of Armenian causes Aram Garabedian spoke about how new evidence is being found about the Armenian Genocide from various sources.
Pauline Getzoyan and Esther Kalajian of the Genocide Education Project, R.I. Branch, announced the 2017 Genocide Educator of the Year, Claudia Traub, who teaches at the Sophia Academy in Providence. Her students study the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. This award includes a $500 stipend, which is made possible through the donations of the Armenian Martyrs’ Memorial Committee of R.I. and the Armenian Cultural Committee of R.I. Traub accepted her award and brought several of her students to see our event and learn more about the Armenian Genocide. She brings a lot of enthusiasm to the students while learning about the Armenian Genocide.
The Homenetmen Scouts, under the direction of Raffi Rachdouni, beautifully sang two Armenian patriotic songs, Verkerov Li and Hyortik.
A beautiful rendition of Sayat Nova’s Eshkhemed was played on the duduk by David Gevorkian accompanied by Doug James.
The event’s guest speaker was Marc A. Mamigonian, Director of Academic Affairs at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) since 2009. Previously, he served as the organization’s director of programs and publications. An alumnus of the University of New Hampshire (BA, 1990) and Tufts University (MA, 1992), Mamigonian is the editor of the book The Armenians of New England and the “Journal of Armenian Studies”, and is the co-author of annotated editions of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses published by Alma Classics in the United Kingdom. His most recent publication, “Academic Denial of the Armenian Genocide in American Scholarship: “Denialism as Manufactured Controversy”, appeared in the journal “Genocide Studies International” in 2015. His interesting and heartfelt remarks were much appreciated.
The Honor Guards for the day included the Armenian Masonic Degree Team, The Knights of Vartan, and the Homenetmen Scouts. It was another emotional day reminding us all to never forget our Holy Martyrs and survivors and what the Turkish Ottoman government did to our people. We are still seeking justice for our nation and people.
In conjunction with celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the dedication of the Martyrs’ Monument, the Martyrs Committee along with the Cultural Committee of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church, presented the movie, Alter Ego on the evening of April 22 in the Egavian Cultural Center. The producer and director Vigen Chaldranian, who had just arrived from Armenia, spoke about the movie. Following the presentation, there were a few questions and then fellowship and a cake for the 40th Anniversary of the Martyrs’ Monument.
The Armenian Martyrs’ Committee also sponsored its 19th Annual Armenian Youth Day on April 18, at the Egavian Cultural Center in Providence during school vacation week. Pauline Getzoyan gave information about children bullying and the Genocide Education program. Jane Zobian and Hasmig Phillips provided materials for a craft class where the children painted pomegranates on small tiles and decorated them as they wished.
A session was also held where the four clergy each spoke to a group of students. George Aghjayan held a two-hour session on where and how to search on the web to find family roots. David Greigo prepared Jeopardy game for the students. Two students from Sts. Stephen’s Armenian Day School in Watertown came and showed slides of their class trip to Armenia. In the afternoon, Charles Kalajian held a Near East Drum Circle where each child was playing various drums and instruments and learning rhythm and style of music. A great educational and fun day was had by all. Lunch was also provided free of charge to everyone.
The organizers would like to thank the Ararat Association for their donation in help funding this program and to all the volunteers who made this day possible.