RIDGEFIELD, N.J. – More than 200 people attended a program and benefit concert on Saturday, June 4th, honoring the 104th anniversary of the First Independent Republic of Armenia and supporting the people of Artsakh.
Organized by the Armenian Cultural Association of America (ACAA) Eastern US Artsakh Fund to raise funds for new projects in Artsakh, the event began with the Homenetmen scouts carrying the national flags and saluting while the anthems of Armenia and Artsakh were played.
Master of ceremonies Pauline Dostoumian, a member of the ACAA Eastern US Artsakh Fund committee, noted in her opening remarks that in May 1918 against all odds, the “fools” paved the way to victory, and from 1988-1994, again the “fools” liberated the fortress city of Shushi, as well as 90-percent of historic Artsakh. However, the 2020 Artsakh War differed in that we faced both exterior and interior enemies. She stated that today our existence as a nation is in grave danger because without Artsakh we don’t have Armenia, and without Armenia, we don’t have a Diaspora. “Let’s join our voices to the Resistance Movement in our homeland and say no to normalizations with Turkey, no to depopulating Artsakh,” appealed Dostoumian, continuing, “Artsakh will never be part of Azerbaijan.” She said we have an obligation and duty to convey a stable, secure and strong homeland to our future generations. Our nation’s borders are not subject to negotiation for they have been set by the blood of our young soldiers and volunteers. “The ‘fools’ marching today in the streets of Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor and in the streets of Stepanakert will certainly again pave the way to victory soon,” concluded Dostoumian.
Nairi Diratsouian presented the voice of the youth, reconfirming the commitment to serve. “We, the youth, have taken on this duty to serve our nation in every capacity, to ensure the survival of our nation,” she stated. “Whether it is advocating for policy priorities in the halls of Congress or protesting the capitulation, the will and sacrifice of our forefathers inspires our generation to exhaust every route to secure the independence of Armenia and Artsakh. We will not bow to the demand of the genocidal dictators of Erdogan and Aliyev,” concluded Diratsouian.
Diratsouian and Dostoumian were among the event committee members, as well as Maral Kaprielian, Niree Kaprielian, Ani Keshishian, Hovig Keushkerian and Marina Yakoubian.
The evening’s keynote speaker Sebouh Hatzakordzian, head of ACAA Eastern US Artsakh Fund committee and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Eastern US Central Committee member, presented the post-war projects in Artsakh. He explained the accomplishments of the committee and ongoing current projects and shared plans for the border villages of the Martuni region.
The presentation was followed by a video message from Antranig Chavoushian, mayor of Aghavno village in Artsakh, who thanked the committee for their contributions to the village and assured viewers that through joint efforts, shoulder to shoulder, we can achieve our national goals. Hatzakordzian praised the courage and heroism of Chavoushian, who refused to surrender the village and risked his life with his family to protect Aghavno village. Hatzakordzian concluded his presentation by stressing that we have no choice but to help the people in Artsakh. He emphasized that the liberation of Shushi and Azeri-occupied territories of Artsakh and the return of the native Armenian population to their ancestral homeland are essential to the survival of our nation. “It is important to celebrate the liberation of Shushi [May 1992] on an annual basis because that gives us energy and hope to achieve it again. We believe Shushi will breathe with Armenian spirit again, the smile will return to the children of Shushi and the bells of Ghazantchetsotz will ring again,” he noted. “We don’t have the right to fail; if we fail, we lose our country, and if we lose Hayasdan, we lose the Diaspora. We have to start here tonight and make sure that by succeeding tonight, we can help Artsakh survive,” he concluded.
Very Rev. Father Sahag Yemishyan, pastor of New Jersey’s Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Apostolic Church, conveyed his supportive message for Artsakh Fund projects and concluded with blessing prayers.
An electrifying patriotic song concert followed the program, with performances by Kevork Artinian and his band. All in attendance participated enthusiastically, young and old waving our national flags and singing along.
At a climactic moment, the entire crowd rose to their feet singing “Zartir Lao,” illuminating their phone flashlights in a show of support to the resistance movement in our homeland. It was a special moment to witness a community leave behind defeatism and recharge its energy and renew its commitment to the people of Artsakh.
The New Jersey community expressed both its moral and financial support. Donations kept pouring in, ultimately exceeding $40,000, for which the committee expresses sincere gratitude.