DOUGLASTON, NY—Six members of New York’s Armenian community joined the ranks of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) last week at a celebration commemorating the 104th anniversary of the independence of the First Republic of Armenia.
Upon successful completion of ARF New York’s “Armen Garo” novice program, new members were sworn in, which were administered by their sponsor Vatche Proodian.
After their swearing-in, the new members of the ARF joined nearly 200 community members to pay homage 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 take the podium. During his address, Kaloustian emphasized the importance of leadership, self-reliance, unity, Armenian nationalism and nationalist identity. He spoke about how the Armenian nation chose to follow the leadership of ARF leader Aram Manukian and how Armenians united 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 key three decades ago when the Karabakh movement started and flourished and led to a result where the unified Armenian side emerged victorious from this war bloody with Azerbaijan, and the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh were created,” Kaloustian said.
Proodian, the keynote speaker, spoke about the importance of the Armenian national movement and the generations of Armenians who did not see Armenia’s independence, such as the famous Armenian activist and fighter Tashnagtsagan Ketcho. Shortly after Ketcho’s death, Armenia gained independence. Proodian read Armenia’s Declaration of Independence and explained how, just three short years after the start of the Armenian Genocide, Armenia declared its sovereignty and fought successfully for its independence. He also talked about Manukian, who was able to unite people and had a message for them: we cannot rely on others; we are alone and we must rely only on our power. Thanks to the determination and willpower of Manukian, the Armenian people achieved victory 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 explained how certain powers, both foreign and domestic, seek to subjugate Armenia and the need to resist these destructive forces. After the opening address, Reverend Father Nareg Terterian of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church delivered some brief remarks and blessed the table.
After the program, vocalist Tro Krikorian and Ara Dabandjian of Element Band took the stage to perform a series of Armenian national and patriotic songs. Participants made generous donations to the ACAA Artsakh Fund; ARF “Armen Garo” Gomideh is committed to matching 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 youths began waving Armenian and Artsakh flags to the songs “Aryunod Trosh” and “Zartir Lao”.