MAHWAH, N.J. (A.W.)—More than 300 guests gathered at Mahwah High School to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Armenia’s First Independent Republic on June 10. The event was organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Dro gomideh, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF-YOARF) New Jersey “Arsen” chapter, and all four local chapters of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS). The event featured singers Sofi Mkheyan and Sevak Amroyan from Armenia and included the participation of the Homenetmen of New Jersey and the Hamazkayin of New Jersey.
The Homenetmen of New Jersey scouts marched in to open the event with the a salute of flags, while the Hamazkayin of New Jersey Arekag Chorus, under the direction of Maestro Vagharshag Ohanyan, led the singing of the National Anthems. Arekag Chorus wowed the crowd with their angelic voices singing “Nor Hayastan” and “Himi El Lrenk” accompanied by Micheal Ambartsumyan on the dhol.
Sofi Mkheyan took the stage and excited the crowd, who got on their feet to sing and dance along. Sevak Amroyan moved the crowd with Armenian patriotic songs that captured the pride of Armenians in their struggle, resilience, and continued fight. Throughout the program, the Nayiri Dance Ensemble, under the direction of Barkev Sanossian and Garik Khachikyan, danced traditional Armenian dances energizing an enthusiastic audience happy to be a part of this very important celebration.
James Sahagian spoke on behalf of the ARF Dro gomideh to conclude the program, reminding the audience that in the midst of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian people were able to survive and gain their independence despite incredible difficulties. Then in 1988, the Armenian nation arose to demand their right to self-determination by successfully liberating most of the lands of Artsakh against overwhelming odds. Sahagian noted that just weeks ago, the Armenian people in the homeland stood-up once again, by the hundreds of thousands, to demand democratic and civil society reforms through the non-violent “velvet revolution” while the world looked on with awe.
Sahagian then introduced United States Congressman Josh Gottheimer (N.J.-5), a staunch supporter of the Armenian Cause, who presented the ARF Dro gomideh with a proclamation stating the following:
“I, Josh Gottheimer, United States Representative for New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District and member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, recognize and call for Reparations for the Armenian Genocide, as the first systematic and deliberate Genocide of the 20th century; and the right to the self-determination for the Armenian people, in both the present day Republic of Armenian and the Republic of Arstakh and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First Armenian Republic.”