DOUGLASTON, NY—Six members of the Armenian community of New York joined the ranks of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) last week during a celebration commemorating the 104th anniversary of the independence of the First Republic of Armenia.
After successfully completing the ARF New York “Armen Garo” novice program, the new members took their oaths, which were administered by their godfather Vatche Proodian.
Following their swearing-in ceremony, the new ARF members joined almost 200 community members to pay tribute to the First Republic of Armenia.
The program began with the singing of the Armenian national anthem and continued with a khosdman araroghootyun during which Homenetmen kayligs received their poghgabs.
The master of ceremonies Armen Caprielian invited Aram Kaloustian, who served on the ARF Bureau from 2019 to 2022, to the podium. During his remarks, Kaloustian stressed the importance of leadership, self-dependence, unity and Armenian nationalism and nationalistic identity. He spoke about how the Armenian nation chose to follow the leadership of ARF leader Aram Manukian and how the Armenians became unified and fought as one. It was this unity that led to victory in the battles of Bash Abaran, Karakilisa and Sardarabad in May 1918. “Unity was also the key three decades ago when the Karabakh movement began and flourished and resulted in an outcome where the unified Armenian side emerged victorious in that bloody war with Azerbaijan, and the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh were established,” said Kaloustian.
Proodian, the keynote speaker, addressed the importance of the Armenian national movement and the generations of Armenians who did not see the independence of Armenia, such as renowned Armenian activist and fighter Tashnagtsagan Ketcho. Shortly after Ketcho’s death, Armenia gained its independence. Proodian read the Declaration of Armenia’s Independence and discussed how just three short years after the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, Armenia declared sovereignty and successfully fought for its independence. He also spoke about Manukian, who was able to unite the people and had one message for them: we cannot rely on others; we are alone, and we should only rely on our power. Through Manukian’s determination and will, the Armenian people were victorious on the battlefield and were able to establish a free country with its own government. Proodian also spoke about the importance of Artsakh and the struggle in Armenia today. He discussed how certain powers, both foreign and domestic, seek to subjugate Armenia and the need to resist these destructive forces. After the keynote speech, Rev. Father Nareg Terterian of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church offered some brief remarks and blessed the table.
Following the program, singer Tro Krikorian and Ara Dabandjian of Element Band took to the stage to perform a series of Armenian national and patriotic songs. Attendees made generous donations to the ACAA Artsakh Fund; the ARF “Armen Garo” Gomideh pledged to match all donations. A total of $24,000 was raised to support Artsakh. The spirit of unity and pride in being Armenian was evident throughout the evening, especially at the end of the program when the youth began waving Armenian and Artsakh flags to the songs “Aryunod Trosh” and “Zartir Lao.”