By Arek & Berj Ourlian
NORTHVILLE, Mich.—On the evening of December 3rd, almost 200 members of the metro Detroit Armenian community came together to celebrate the 131st anniversary of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) at the Meadowbrook Country Club. The program started with the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and Homenetmen Scouts singing the American and Armenian national anthems. They were joined by Tro Krikorian from Los Angeles, who led in the singing of the Artsakh national anthem and Mshag Panvor. The emcees for the event were president of the AYF Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” Senior Chapter Talar Bagdasarian and AYF Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” Senior Chapter executive Mourad Tossounian. In their opening remarks, the AYF members expressed their excitement for the opportunity to finally come together as a community to celebrate the 131st anniversary of the ARF. Der Hrant Kevorkian of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church and Father Andon Atamian of St. Vartan Armenian Catholic Church were invited to bless the table. In attendance were guest speaker and ARF Bureau member Aram Kaloustian from Los Angeles and members of the ARF Central Committee Eastern Region.
Kaloustian congratulated the metro Detroit Armenian community for organizing a successful event. “Imagine what would have occurred had there not been the ARF, that it was not formed in the early 1890s, no Tashnagtsoutioun. There would be no revolution, no fedayees, no Bank Ottoman, no Khanasor, no call for Armenian unity, no independent Republic of Armenia in 1918, no resistance whatsoever at that critical time—a time when the Sultan and the Young Turks would have and could have massacred hundreds of thousands more, and truly succeeded in their campaign to eliminate the Armenian race, the Armenian nation,” he said. Kaloustian also stressed that an Armenian Diaspora would not exist without the ARF, energizing the room with his passionate speech.
To close out the program, Raffi Ourlian and Georgi-Ann Oshagan from the ARF Azardamard Gomideh presented awards to notable community leaders. AYF-ER chairman Vrej Dawli and AYF-ER vice-chair Araxie Tossounian were presented with the youth awards. “The work done by [Dawli and Tossounian] is truly amazing from a local perspective and regional perspective through a pandemic to keep the AYF moving forward,” said Ourlian, adding that these AYF members are exemplary role models for the AYF and young people in the community.
The Hamageer awards were presented to Silva Sagherian and Shoghere Ourlian. “Ungerouhi Sagherian, who has had many roles locally and regionally, is an outstanding leader who has supported our work in the Detroit community. She is always willing to help us in our Hai Tahd efforts.” said Oshagan. “Ungerouhi Shoghere is the chair of the local Hamazkayin chapter and was instrumental in gathering school supplies for the Lebanon schools last year after the port explosion,” she continued.
The ARF Legacy award was posthumously awarded to the late Hamazasb Arslanian, who was born on February 13, 1905. He was one of the founding organizers of the ARF tseghagrons in Detroit in 1933. His passion was the ARF and AYF. He helped manage ARF properties in Highland Park, Michigan and supported many of the organizations operationally and financially. Arslanian was a soldier of the ARF in service to the Armenian people and the Armenian community of Detroit. The award was presented to his daughter, Bergy Darakjian.
The evening continued with beautiful performances of patriotic songs by Krikorian and Ara Dabandjian. Members of the organizing committee included Tossounian, Adi Asadoorian and Lori Pilibosian.
Later that weekend, the AYF and Homenetmen scouts met Kaloustian for lunch and discussed current events in the homeland. Kaloustian praised the youth for being active in the community and requested that they use their skills and talents for the betterment of Armenia and Artsakh.