PROVIDENCE, R.I. (A.W.)—The Armenian National Committee of Rhode Island (ANC-R.I.) concluded its 2018 statewide Armenian Genocide commemorative events, which are listed below in chronological order.
April 4 – Gubernatorial Proclamation – Governor Gina Raimondo signed into law the official recognition of the Armenian Genocide with a proclamation.
April 4 – House Passes Armenian Genocide Resolution – For decades the R.I. House of Representatives has been honoring our Martyrs/Saints by passing a resolution recognizing Armenian Genocide Observance Day. Such was the case once again this year. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Katherine Kazarian (District 63) and passed unanimously.
April 18 – Flag Raising Ceremony at East Providence City Hall – see attached article
April 19 – Flag Raising Ceremony at Cranston City Hall – see attached article
April 20 – Flag Raising Ceremony at North Providence Town Hall – see attached article
April 24 – Armenian Flags Fly Over Rhode Island – For the past 18 years, every city and town hall along with the R.I. State House have flown the Armenian flag in memory of our Martyrs/Saints. The flag sponsor program, which enables a donor to choose a city or town hall to fly the flag in memory or honor of a loved one, was enormously successful once again. Over 100 individuals, businesses and organizations supported this program.
April 24 – Senate Passes Armenian Genocide Resolution – For decades the RI Senate has been honoring our Martyrs/Saints by passing a resolution recognizing Armenian Genocide Observance Day. Once again, Senator Hanna Gallo of Cranston introduced the legislation and the resolution passed unanimously.
Note: All photos were taken and provided by Sevan Donoian and Pauline Getzoyan.
April 18 (East Providence, R.I.)
The ANC-R.I. held its second annual flag raising ceremony at the City Hall in East Providence. Present were several city officials, including Assistant Mayor Robert Britto, Police Chief Christopher Parella, City Manager Malcolm Moore, Fire Chief Oscar Elmasian, DPW Director Steve Coutu, Councilmen Brian Faria and Joseph Bothelo, State Representatives Aaron Regunberg and Greg Amore, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, Honorable Aram Garabedian, Town Clerk Kim Casci and local residents of the city.
The American and Armenian national anthems were played on the accordion by Hagop Garabedian. Der Hayr Kapriel Nazarian of Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church opened the program with prayer. He was followed by Assistant Mayor Britto, who was honored to host such a solemn event in his city. Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and the Honorable Aram Garabedian also offered remarks for the occasion. Stephen Elmasian, ANC-R.I. member spoke about the mission of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and thanked the City for hosting the event.
This year’s honoree, Mr. Vartges Engustian, is a man who has brought honor and pride to us as an Armenian American. He has faithfully served his Nation and his Church. In East Providence, he served as the City Engineer and was the Director of the Department of Public Works for 26 years.
Following Mr. Engustian’s recognition, everyone went outside for the flag raising, and much to Mr. Engustian’s surprise, a police escort was followed by a fleet of trucks from the department he once managed. The building that houses these trucks is also named in his honor. Refreshments followed inside the City Hall.
April 19 (Cranston, R.I.)
The ANC-RI held the annual flag raising ceremony in the Cranston
City Hall council chambers, where a capacity crowd gathered. Mayor Allan Fung, who has supported the Armenian cause since he took office, welcomed the attendees and shared his comments regarding our struggle for proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide at all levels of government. He introduced Providence Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) member, Andrew Bagdasarian, who served as the master of ceremonies.
After opening remarks by Bagdasarian, Taleen Donoyan (of the Armenian Youth Federation – AYF-YOARF and Homenetmen) and Anna-Marie Danayan (AYF-YOARF) sang the Star Spangled Banner and Mer Hairenik. Der Hayr Kapriel Nazarian of Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church began the program with an opening prayer. State Treasurer Seth Magaziner then spoke about how, on such a solemn occasion, Armenians should rejoice as they have survived and contribute to the vibrancy and success of our state and nation. Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian thanked Mayor Fung for hosting the event once again and noted that it’s especially nice that we are welcome in his City Hall, as well as the ones in East Providence the day before and North Providence the following day, whereas it might be expected that the community would be welcome in Warwick where the Mayor is Armenian. The Honorable Aram Garabedian, who has been a champion of the Armenian cause for decades, spoke about the legislation he introduced in 2000 regarding Genocide Education and made special reference to State Representative Katherine Kazarian. Also present were Representative Aaron Regunberg, retired Judge Haiganush Bedrosian and Archpriest Fr. Gomidas Baghsarian.
Ani Haroian, chair of the ANC-R.I., shared her message, specifically thanking the dais and Rep. Regunberg for their collective efforts. She also presented a global picture and mission of the ANC and called for community engagement to strengthen our efforts and ensure successful programs.
Providence AYF-YOARF Junior Chapter President and Homenetmen Providence member Nerses Donoyan spoke on behalf of the youth. His message was that we will continue to fight for the recognition that we deserve.
Bedros Kevorkian of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA), Providence Chapter, also offered remarks and echoed the words of Nerses. These two young men and their contemporaries represent a bright beacon of hope for our future.
Mayor Fung then introduced the honoree, Mr. Ara Boghigian, an active member of the RI Armenian community, who has served Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church for decades and has brought honor and pride to us as an Armenian American and a resident of the City of Cranston.
A closing prayer was offered by Badveli Hagop Manjelikian of the Armenian Evangelical Church.
The Providence Homenetmen Scouts served as honor guard and led the crowd outside to the flag pole where the flag was raised by honoree Boghigian as the scouts sang Mer Hairenik.
US Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse both sent representatives, as they were in Washington.
Refreshments followed at Sonia’s Market and Deli, a block away, where all were welcomed as guests of Ara and Sevan Janigian.
April 20 (North Providence, R.I.)
The ANC-R.I. held the annual flag raising ceremony at the North Providence Town Hall council chambers, where a large crowd had gathered.
Mayor Charles Lombardi, who has supported our cause since he took office, welcomed the attendees and shared his comments regarding our struggle for proper recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
He introduced Police Chief David Tikoian to serve as the master of ceremonies. After opening remarks from Col. Tikoian, he asked that the Homenetmen Scouts lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The Scouts followed with the singing of Mer Hairenik. The Honorable Peter Kilmartin, RI Attorney General, then shared his comments and concluded by stating that he had been invited to Turkey as a guest of the government but declined based on their position regarding Armenian Genocide recognition. Once again, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and the Honorable Aram Garabedian shared their comments.
Steve Elmasian of the ANC-R.I. spoke of the work the organization carries out in the State and read the impressive bio of this year’s honoree, Mr. Armen Janigian.
Mayor Lombardi then introduced the honoree, an active member of the RI Armenian community serving his church (Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church) as chairman of many committees for years, including but not limited to, the picnics and bazaars. He has been in banking for 40 years, and along with his wife Sonia, has instilled in his children the pride and joy of being a good Armenian, traits that he learned from his parents and grandparents, among others.
Mr. Janigian was humbled and honored to represent the Armenian community of North Providence and recognized the work the Armenian National Committees do all year long all over the country.
Also present were State Senator Frank Lombardi and Council President Dino Autiello. A closing prayer was offered by Badveli Hagop Manjelikian of the Armenian Evangelical Church. The crowd then proceeded outside where the flag was raised by Mr. Janigian. Refreshments followed in the council chambers.