Armenian community of Queens, NY honors Genocide martyrs with “hesgoum” service, program

Flowers were placed at memorial for our fallen ancestors below a painting depicting the ancestors who live within us in spirit

QUEENS, NY – Members of New York’s Armenian community gathered at St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church on Saturday to commemorate the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. 

After leading the community in prayer Fr. Nareg Terterian said, “We are here because of our ancestors, and our strength to keep our nation alive comes from them.” 

Councilwoman Vickie Paladino of District 19, Northeast Queens, NY

City Councilwoman Vickie Paladino was also in attendance for the church service. “The Armenian people of Queens are very important to me, especially as we think about the ongoing tribulations Armenians are still facing today,” she said.

Organizers played videos of firsthand accounts from dozens of Armenian Genocide survivors, who recalled their painful memories and hardships in their battle against extermination. One genocide survivor named Maria said women shouldered the most difficult burdens: should they survive, they were tasked with creating new life. 

Every Armenian has a story about ancestors who survived and those who did not. AYF NY “Hyortik” Chapter member Arev Ebrimian shared hers.

Arev Ebrimian

My family history resides mainly in the village of Urfa. My father’s ancestry is one that begins with the Hamidian massacres, having fled from Urfa to Aleppo Syria to feel safe from the current Turkish regime. They returned to Urfa years after they left and felt as though the village was not the same as it used to be. It was broken, unsafe and heartbreaking. It pained them to feel unwelcome in their own home. They decided to go back to Aleppo, Syria and continue building their family there for the next two generations and then made their way to America.

Despite all odds, my parents were able to immigrate to the United States from Syria and bless me with the life I have now. Growing up in America, I always think about how every step I take, I do it for my ancestors. I think about how far my family has come and how precious life is. Even though we Armenians don’t live in Armenia or experience the hatred against us that still happens to us to this day, we have an advantage to help our nation by collectively continuing our ancient culture and by helping our nation in any way that we can.”

Astghik Boudakian

The evening’s program continued with the recitation of an Armenian poem by several students from St. Sarkis Saturday School, a rendition of Silva Kaputikyan’s poem “Qele Lao” by Astghik Boudakian and a guitar performance by Narek Boudakian.

Narek Boudakian

There was also a virtual tour presented by Isabel Hagobian and Mari Bijimenian of their trip to Artsakh last summer. They showcased similarities between the 1915 Genocide and the 2020 Artsakh War. Though the death toll was not the same, the objective was: to exterminate Armenians. Turkey and Azerbaijan are looking to complete the mission of their own ancestors, while we continue the mission of ours: survival and the pursuit to self-determination.

Members of the AYF NY “Hyortik” Chapter

The evening spent at St. Sarkis was filled with gratitude through prayer, reflection on the achievements of the New York Armenian community and hope for this new generation to lead us toward a free, united and independent Armenia.

Members of the ARF “Armen Garo” Gomideh with Fr. Nareg Terterian and Yn. Annie
Chantelle Nasri

Chantelle Nasri

Chantelle Nasri is a resident of Brooklyn, NY and a 2018 graduate of SUNY College at Brockport. She is an alumna of the AYF-YOARF Eastern Region Manhattan "Moush" Chapter and currently serves as the chairwoman of the Armenian National Committee of America, New York Chapter.

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