AYF NJ “Arsen” Chapter hosts Armenian flag raising ceremony

Participants and organizers of the 2022 flag raising ceremony in Fort Lee, NJ

FORT LEE, N.J. Over 100 Armenian-American community members gathered at the Fort Lee Borough Hall on Saturday for this year’s flag raising ceremony, a commemorative event to remember the martyrs who perished during the Armenian Genocide as well as honor the victims of the continual cycle of genocide perpetrated against the Armenian people. 

The flag raising ceremony was organized by the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of New Jersey and the Armenian Youth Federation-Youth Organization of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (AYF-YOARF) “Arsen” Chapter, with the participation of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of Eastern USA “Agnouni,” “Armenouhi” of Bergen County and “Shakeh” Chapters, Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of NJ, Homenetmen of New Jersey and Nareg Armenian School. 

Homenetmen Scouts raising the flag

The program began with a statement from Anais Boyajian, who captured the importance of the event by noting, “Since September 27, 2020, when Azerbaijan with the support of Turkey attacked the Republics of Artsakh and Armenia, we have all understood that the Armenian Genocide did not end in 1923. Today, at this very moment, the existential threat against the Armenian nation continues at the hands of the dictators in Baku and Ankara. We are here today, all of us, especially the youth to say in no uncertain terms, we will not stand by and allow the annihilation of our nation.”

With the procession of the Fort Lee Police Honor Guard, Niree Kaprielian, a senior member of the AYF New Jersey “Arsen” and ARS “Shakeh” Chapters kicked off the program with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. After Very Reverend Father Sahag Yemishyan’s blessing, members of the Homenetmen scouts raised the Armenian tricolor flag to Sako Tashjian’s singing of “Mer Hairenik.” 

Meghry Tutunjian moved the audience with flute performances of “Giligia” and “Mardigi Yerke.” Talented students from the Nareg Armenian School recited the poem “Akh Douns” and led the crowd in singing “Hay Vorteeg.”

Fort Lee Mayor Mark J. Sokolich, who presented the proclamation to Fort Lee Resident Hasmig Aprahamian

The community was then greeted by Fort Lee Mayor Mark J. Sokolich, who was joined by Fort Lee council members and members of the police and fire departments. Mayor Sokolich presented the proclamation to Fort Lee resident Hasmig Aprahamian, who he recognized as playing an integral role in educating the local government of Fort Lee. In his remarks, he noted a specific clause in the proclamation that read, “WHEREAS, by recognizing, remembering, and educating those about the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Pogroms in Sumgait, Baku and Kirovabad, the massacre in Maragha, and all cases of past and ongoing genocide, we help protect historic memory, ensure that similar atrocities do not occur again, and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution, and tyranny.” 

“We express our deepest appreciation for the mayor and the borough of Fort Lee for supporting this important event. After a long hiatus, it was incredible to see the community come together in remembering the victims of the continual genocide of Armenians,” commented Garine Koushagjian, AYF New Jersey “Arsen” Hai Tahd Committee member. “It is inspiring to see elected officials recognize past atrocities and commit to educating others through accurate depictions of Armenian history,” she continued.

Sarhad Melkonian, a junior member of the AYF New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter and a Homenetmen scout, recited Siamanto’s “Ap Me Mokhir Hayreni Doun”—a work that encompasses the state of Armenians after 1923.

Lori Baronian, chair of AYF New Jersey “Arsen” Hai Tahd Committee, delivered the closing remarks on behalf of the ANC-NJ and the AYF New Jersey “Arsen” Chapter, emphasizing the will of Armenian youth. “But we must fight to come out of this victorious; no matter what the challenge, we will not give up,” said Baronian. “We will not tolerate another genocide. We will not succumb to Azerbaijan and Turkey and their allies in Yerevan. We are here to tell the world—this is enough. No matter how much you ignore what is happening to our people, we will not allow you to look the other way.” 

On Saturday, April 23, the ANC of NJ will be commemorating the 107th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at the Genocide Memorial at Huff Pond in Montvale, New Jersey at 4:00 p.m.

Nairi Diratsouian

Nairi Diratsouian

Nairi Diratsouian is a rising senior at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She is pursuing a degree in psychology with a triple minor in public policy, political science, and crime and justice studies. On campus, Nairi serves as the vice president of the Psychology Affiliation and the Armenian Students Association. Currently, she works as the communications specialist for the ANCA-Eastern Region and serves on the AYF Central Hai Tahd Council as well as the New Jersey “Arsen” Executive. Nairi’s passion for her heritage is evident through her participation in the Hamazkayin of New Jersey Nayiri Dance Ensemble, Homenetmen of New Jersey, ARS “Shakeh” Chapter, ANC of New Jersey and the Hovnanian School Alumni Association.

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