WASHINGTON–A statue of Armen Garo (Garegin Pastermadjian)–who served as Armenia’s first diplomat in Washington, D.C. from 1919-1920, and was a leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF)–was unveiled on the grounds of Armenia’s Embassy in Washington, at a program organized by the Armenian Embassy in collaboration with the ARF, and attended by the President of Armenia, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, ARF leaders, and hundreds of community members and dignitaries.
“We’re celebrating the continuation of this great victory–the victory of establishing the first Armenian Republic. It has never stopped; it had maybe a different face, for seventy years it was called the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, but a lot of us, in our hearts, still believe that the real Republic is the one which is called a free and democratic Armenia,” President Sarkissian told participants at the June 28 Embassy program dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the First Armenian Republic. “What was in our hearts became a reality again, and so the First Republic was reborn; it was never dead, it was reborn again. And it is reborn every and each time when we achieve something; it is reborn again and again when on the fields of the fight for the independence of Artsakh, Nagorno-Karabagh, Armenian fighters had in their hearts the image and the message of the First Republic. It was reborn again and again just a couple of months ago, when the Armenians on the streets of Yerevan were demonstrating for a change – change for a more democratic, just country free of corruption, and a country of equals,” noted Sarkissian. President Sarkissian’s complete remarks are available below.
ARF Bureau (World Council) member Hagop Der Khatchadourian congratulated all in attendance on the First Armenian Republic’s centennial, noting, “There is no greater date in modern Armenian history comparable to the miracle that was the reemergence of independent Armenian statehood after more than 5.5 centuries under various harsh foreign rulers. There are no greater feats than the heroic victories of our nation, under the leadership of Aram Manoukian, upon the battlefields of Bash-Aparan, Gharakilise, and Sardarabad. […] From the shapeless chaos of those days a reborn Armenia emerged.”
After detailing the incredible progress made during the few short years of the First Republic in setting a foundation for a country based on social justice and rights, Der Khatchadourian went on to praise recent political changes in the present-day Republic of Armenia.
“Armenia’s successes are our collective successes as a dispersed nation and, similarly, Armenia’s failures are our collective failures,” said Der Khatchadourian. “Now, reinvigorated by a new burst of optimism and democratic values, we have the potential of multiplying those successes and minimizing, hopefully even eliminating, its failures. Now we have the golden opportunity to do our part in helping Armenia, together with Artsakh and Javakhk, not only to survive but to prosper through hard work, dedication, resilience, and our well-deserved proclivity for creativity and innovation. This is our national, collective task, and failure is not an option,” concluded Der Khatchadourian.
The text of Der Khatchadourian’s complete remarks (English and Armenian) are available here and video of the address is available below.
Master of Ceremonies, Ambassador Grigor Hovannessian, opened the program with welcoming remarks, and by describing the productive collaboration with the ARF of the Eastern U.S. in planning the event and securing the statue. The program included musical presentations by New-York-based young operatic bass Christopher Nazarian and fifth-grade students from Brightwood Education Campus, who are partnered with the Embassy of Armenia as part of the Embassy Adoption Program. The program also included remarks by Hayk Demoyan of the Armenian Genocide Memorial (Tsitsernakaberd) in Armenia. As part of the day’s events, the Ambassador presented Mrs. Savey Tufenkian a well-deserved lifetime achievement honor for her decades of leadership in support for humanitarian initiatives both in the Armenian Homeland and the Armenian American community.
The Ambassador was joined by Hagop Der Khatchadourian, Hayg Oshagan of the ARF Eastern U.S. Central Committee, sculptor Megerditch Tarakdjian, and architect Aram Aladjajian to unveil the statue to great applause.
The capacity crowd included U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Adjutant General of Kansas National Guard Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Vicar General of the Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Eastern U.S.; Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern US; the leadership of the ARF, Armenian Democratic Liberal Organization (Ramgavar Party), Armenian Relief Society, Homenetmen Armenian Athletic and Scouting organization, Armenian Youth Federation (AYF-YOARF), Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association, Armenian National Committee of America, Armenian Assembly of America, Knights of Vartan, and other dignitaries.
The bronze sculpture of Armen Garo, the First Armenian Ambassador to the U.S., is the creation of renowned Canadian-Armenian artist Megerditch Tarakdjian. Two other Tarakdjian pieces, sculptures of Alan Hovhaness and Arshile Gorky–are also on permanent display at the Armenian Embassy.
The Embassy program was the last in a three day series of centennial celebrations of U.S.-Armenia friendship which included the June 26 Congressional salute of a century of U.S.-Armenia Friendship, the Wednesday, June 27 Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) advocacy day. The events coincided with the kick-off of the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on Thursday, June 28th, where Armenian culture and history take center-stage along with Catalonia. “Armenia: Creating Home” will be a week-long exploration of Armenian culture–its influences, contributions, and exchange with diaspora communities throughout the United States. Over a million attendees are expected at the Smithsonian festival, held at Washington, DC’s famed “National Mall” from June 27–July 1 and July 4–8, which will include over 150 presentations and panels on Armenian music, food, craft, dance, and film, showcasing traditional practices which create “home,” both in concept and in form. The Smithsonian’s “Cultures of Survival” programs featured screenings of “The Promise” and “Intent to Destroy.”
The ANCA Endowment Fund #KeepThePromise initiative is a major sponsor of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.