MONTVALE, NJ—On Sunday October 4, the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of New Jersey held a re-dedication ceremony to bless the Armenian Genocide memorial at Huff Pond in Montvale, NJ.
A plaque honoring the victims of the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Turks was initially installed in an April 2019 ceremony led by Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali and Montvale Economic Development Committee Chair Raffi Joukhadarian. Later the memorial was embedded in a granite base and the rededication ceremony was organized by Mayor Ghassali and the ANC of New Jersey.
Master of Ceremonies Karine Shnorhokian welcomed clergy, Mayor Ghassali, various community organizational representatives, community members and Montvale residents. The Homenetmen Scouts of New Jersey presented the American, Armenian and Artsakh flags followed by the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and the Armenian national anthem “Mer Hairenik” by Tvene Baronian.
Shnorhokian noted the significance of the installation at this critical time in the Armenian people’s struggle for survival. “The timing of this event and its re-dedication serves as a reminder that the genocidal acts committed over 105 years ago are still very present at this moment. It reminds us that when the world is distracted how evil in this world continues to consume the innocent and we have a social and moral obligation to act responsibly to stand-up to these actions and injustices,” she said.
During his remarks, Mayor Ghassali shared the story of how his grandparents survived the Armenian Genocide. “You see, my friends, people ask me all the time, how do you keep your calm when dealing with pothole complaints, heavy snow storms, residents who are not happy because they failed inspection, this story comes to mind and makes me put things into perspective,” he said. “I know that you and I survived and are here for a reason.”
Following these comments, Eastern Prelate His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanelian; Very Reverend Father Sahag Yemishian of St. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, NJ; Father Diran Bohajian; and Paramus Armenian Presbyterian Church Pastor Joe Garabedian blessed the stone and monument.
Archbishop Tanelian then offered his remarks, thanking the Mayor and his council for their initiative. He then continued by highlighting the connection between the Armenian Genocide and the current events in Armenia and Artsakh today. “For all those [martyred] not only in the past but even today we are going through difficult tribulations and [we] will be, I believe, their voice. The voice of justice, the voice of peace, the voice of prosperity.” Finally he noted that “today they [historians] can fly to Artsakh and they will witness how the Genocide is a living Genocide where not only trespassing the laws, international laws of war, they are totally trying to eliminate the citizens.”
On behalf of the ANC of New Jersey James Sahagian spoke about the significance of the event. “It is a wonderful gesture on your behalf to dedicate this memorial here today,” he said. “This is a fight we all have a role to play in. None of us can do everything but everyone of us can do something to make a difference,” noted Sahagian.
Serving as the chairman of the Montvale Economic Development Committee, Raffi Joukhadarian spoke briefly about the significance of the monument. He said, “Clearly this stone is a symbol, for us to remember all the Armenian Genocide victims. It’s also a struggle the Armenian people have gone through and continue to go through as we see it currently in Artsakh. We continue to stand together as Armenian people…”
Shnorhokian then invited Pascack Hills High School senior Alec Boyajian to give his remarks. As a member of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), Boyajian noted the active role the youth play in Armenian community life. “As we speak, we are still pressed against the wall by Turkey and Azerbaijan,” he noted. Boyajian spoke about the intersection between the past and present, saying, “Some may believe that our struggles are a story of the past, but they are not. We are in an ongoing fight for the Armenian Cause.”
Concluding the program, Shnorhokian thanked Mayor Ghassali, clergy and speakers, the ANC of New Jersey, and especially Hrair Baronian for his assistance with installing the stone and plaque. On behalf of the ANC of New Jersey, she invited the youth to present the Mayor and Joukhadarian with a special gift including wine from the Askeran region of Artsakh.
The event concluded with the clergy leading the singing of Hayr Mer. Participants were then invited to place flowers on the monument in honor of the Armenian Genocide martyrs.