My greatest pride is my Armenian genes - Armenian Reporter

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My greatest pride is my Armenian genes - Armenian Reporter

CraigKalpakjian:challengingrealitySee story on page C3 mThe Molokansadd ethniccolor toArmeniaSee story on page 15 mArmenians builda new Armeniain Naples,FloridaSee story on page 4 mEastern U.S. EditionNumber 108April 4, 2009the armenianreporterKim: My greatest pride ismy Armenian genes andmy Armenian vorSee story on page 14mVisit us at the new reporter.am


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009NationalWashington briefingby Emil SanamyanObama begins tour ofEurope and TurkeyPresident Barack Obama begana weeklong five-city tour that focuseson the European allies of theUnited States, relations with Russiaand Turkey, and the economiccrisis. The trip is the president’sfirst major foray abroad since takingoffice.In London on April 1–2, Mr.Obama was joined by leaders ofworld’s largest economies, includingthose of Russia and Turkey, forthe G20 economic summit. Talkswith the Russian president werefollowed by a joint statementpledging a fresh nuclear disarmamentinitiative, and cooperationon missile defense, nonproliferation,counterterrorism, and talkswith Iran.The president’s next stop, Strasbourg(April 3–4), is hosting the60th anniversary summit of theNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO), which just expandedto 28 members after formallyadopting Albania and Croatia.Another former Yugoslav republic,Macedonia, has been blockedfrom joining due to Greece’s longstandingobjections to that country’sname.A spokesperson for the StateDepartment said on April 1 thatNATO is open to additional membersand “that both Georgia andUkraine, should they choose tobecome NATO members and meetNATO’s membership criteria, willsomeday become members of thealliance.”While U.S. officials refuse to admitit, rhetorically there has beenmarkedly less enthusiasm for thetwo countries’ membership sincethe brief war between Russia andGeorgia last August.After a stop in Prague for a summitbetween the United Statesand the European Union on April5, Mr. Obama will continue toAnkara (April 5–6) and Istanbul(April 6–7).According to a White Housenational security affairs spokesperson,Denis McDonough,who spoke with Turkish mediaon March 28, the Ankara itineraryincludes a visit to the AtaturkMausoleum; a meeting with theTurkish president, followed bylunch and a joint press conference;an address to the Turkishparliament; and a meeting withthe prime minister.In Istanbul later on April 6, Mr.Obama will participate in the meetingof the Alliance of Civilizations– a United Nations program co-initiatedby Turkey and Spain. The alliancebrings together 78 countriesworldwide, including Azerbaijan,Iran, and Russia, but not Armenia,Georgia, or Israel.And on the final day of the trip,Mr. Obama will meet with Turkey’sreligious leaders, visit SultanahmetMosque and Hagia Sophia, andparticipate in a roundtable with agroup of Turkish students joinedby others in Europe and MiddleEast via video conference.Administration officialpromises “energeticengagement” onKarabakh“We must engage energetically onenduring conflicts in Moldovaand Nagorno-Karabakh,” newlyappointed Assistant Secretary ofState Philip Gordon told membersof the Senate Foreign AffairsCommittee during his March 27confirmation hearings.In his prepared testimony,Mr. Gordon also promised to“support the negotiations on asettlement in Cyprus; promoteTurkey’s EU aspirations whileencouraging it to improve relationswith Armenia, Cyprus andGreece; and vigorously promotethe diversification of Europeanenergy supplies.”Denies media reportthat he claimed it“will not pass”by Emil SanamyanWASHINGTON – Rep. Mark Kirk(R.-Ill.), co-chair of the congressionalArmenian caucus, says that heremains hopeful about the progressof the Armenian Genocideresolution and was misquoted bythe Turkish media about it.“My hope is that we get this resolutionto [a vote on] on the floor andthat we adopt it,” Mr. Kirk told theArmenian Reporter on April 2. But, headded, “I don’t know when Speaker[Nancy] Pelosi is going to put thisresolution on the floor. We are allwaiting for the Speaker to tell us.”Mr. Gordon, the State Department’snew manager for Europeand Eurasia, also promised to“promote democracy, encourageeconomic reform, protect nationalsovereignty and territorial integrity,and resolve the enduring conflictsthat cause needless sufferingon a daily basis and – as we saw lastsummer in Georgia – risk eruptingviolently at any time.”Possibly reflecting the Obamaadministration’s interest in engagingRussia, and while referring to“the Russian invasion of Georgiaand unjustifiable recognition oftwo breakaway regions,” the testimonydid not as in the past offeroutright support for Georgia’s positionon those regions.Committee member Sen. BobMenendez (D.-N.J.) raised concernswith Mr. Gordon’s past oppositionArmenian Genocide affirmationand tilt in favor of Turkey onthe Cyprus conflict.In his response, Mr. Gordon referredto the Genocide as “a terribletragedy” and used other languagethat was also employed by formerPresident George W. Bush and hisofficials when discussing the issue.He also declined to term Turkishmilitary presence in Cyprus an occupation.House IntelligenceCommittee holdsArmenia briefingA key congressional panel thatoversees the U.S. intelligence communitythis week held a rare briefingdedicated to Armenia. Accordingto a public notice on its website,the House Select Intelligence Committeemet on March 31 to receive aclosed “Briefing on Armenia,” presumablygiven by administrationofficials.“My hope is that [Speaker Pelosi]puts the resolution on the floor,” hesaid. “President [Barack] Obamasaid that he is for this resolutionand campaign promises shouldmatter.”Together with Reps. AdamSchiff (D.-Calif.), GeorgeRadanovich (R.-Calif.) andFrank Pallone, Jr. (D.-N.J.),Mr. Kirk is an original co-sponsorof House Resolution 252 affirmingthe U.S. record on theArmenian Genocide, which iscurrently co-sponsored by 85 additionalmembers of the Houseof Representatives.On April 2, the English versionof Hurriyet daily publisheda translated excerpt of an interviewwith Rep. Kirk publishedthe same day in the daily Aksamin Turkish.The excerpt quoted Rep. Kirkas saying, “Speaker of the HouseCongressional aides declined todiscuss the briefing, citing governmentsecrecy, but a source familiarwith the issue told the ArmenianReporter that the U.S. and Armeniangovernments were workingcooperatively on the issue that wasthe briefing’s focus.The committee is chaired byRep. Silvestre Reyes (D.-Tex.)and includes as a member Rep.Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.). Rep.Schiff and two other committeemembers visited Armenia duringa May 2008 trip that includedstops in Azerbaijan, Afghanistan,and Pakistan.Turkey’s friends inCongress write toObama, Gül, andSargsianCongressional supporters of U.S.-Turkey ties who have also opposedpast resolutions affirming the U.S.record on the Armenian Genocidehave written to Presidents BarackObama, Abdullah Gül, and SergeSargsian to “support Armenian-Turkish rapprochement.”Reps. Robert Wexler (D.-Fla.),Ike Skelton (D.-Mo.), Alcee Hastings(D.-Fla.) and John Murtha(D.-Penn.) were the main signatoriesto the Gül-Sargsian letter.Mr. Wexler co-chairs the congressionalTurkey caucus. In 2007he was joined by Reps. Skelton,Hastings, Murtha, and other seniordemocratic members in opposingpassage of the ArmenianGenocide resolution, which wassupported by the House Democraticleadership.The March 30 letter addressed toPresidents Gül and Sargsian saidits authors “care deeply about Armeniaand Turkey” and supported“ongoing efforts . . . to heal openwounds, mend broken hearts andcreate a better future for both nationsand peoples.”In an April 1 letter to Mr. Obama,Mr. Wexler was joined by otherTurkey caucus co-chairs and 27other members to tout Turkey’simportance and call on the presidentto step up U.S.-Turkey cooperation.Among other issues in thelong agenda, they called on theObama “Administration [to] lendits unequivocal support to Turkeyand its rapprochement efforts withits neighbor Armenia.”The letter makes no mention ofMr. Obama’s pledge to recognizethe Armenian Genocide or the congressionalresolution on the issueintroduced last month. fRep. Mark Kirk is waiting for Speaker’s decision on Genocide resolutionRep. Mark Kirk(R.-Ill.), co-chairof the HouseArmenian caucus,says he has beenmisquoted byTurkish media.President Obama standing between Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan andRussia’s President Medvedev at the G20 summit in London. Photo: White House.Rep. RobertWexler withBarack Obamaat a pre-electionrally. Last yearMr. Wexlerpredicted U.S.-Turkey ties would“blossom” underMr. Obama. APphotoPhilip Gordon. Photo: Brookings.eduof Representatives, Nancy Pelosiwill not dare pass the bill. She willnot place Obama in a difficult position.The bill will not pass, don’tworry.”When asked about this line, Mr.Kirk said that it was “quite an additionto what I said.”While confirming that he spokewith Aksam newspaper correspondentNagehan Alci, Mr. Kirk saidthe quote was inaccurate.“When my words were translatedfrom English to Turkishand then back to English, I didnot recognize them anymore,” Mr.Kirk said. “The interview made itsound like I was not a supporterof the resolution. Not only I amsupporter, but I am a lead Republicansupporter.”The Armenian Reporter’s requestfor Ms. Alci to comment madeshortly before press time has notyet been answered.f


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009 3CommunityYale Clubballroom filledto capacity, over200 guests, forthe ArmenianRelief SocietyCentennialBanquet.Rep. Anna Eshoo speaks at ars centennial banquetRep. Eshoo saidshe would raiseArmenian Genocideissue with Obamaon March 30. at ascheduled meetingNEW YORK – The Armenian ReliefSociety, founded in New Yorkin 1910, celebrated its 100th anniversaryat New York’s Yale Clubon March 28. Keynote speaker Rep.Anna Eshoo (D.-Calif.) said “Thetime for passing the Genocide resolutionhas never been more right,”according to a report by ArmenianWeekly editor Khatchig Mouradian.“I will be meeting with the presidenton Monday [March 30] evening,and I am going to again raise this issue[of Armenian Genocide recognition]with him,” she noted. Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo, speaker at the ars Centennial Gala Banquet onMarch 28, 2009, receives a plaque of appreciation from the ARS Eastern Region,presented by Angele Manoogian from Florida, chairperson of the Centennial.Speculations mount about possible Turkey-Armenia deal Continued from page 1one on the tense history betweenthe two nations.”The latter issue – of a commission– has been one of the morecontroversial matters. In 2005, theTurkish government first proposedestablishing a “commission ofhistorians” allegedly to study thegenocide. Seeing it as a ploy againstgenocide affirmation, PresidentRobert Kocharian made a counteroffersuggesting a bilateral commissionto look into all issues.President Serge Sargsian hastaken a similar position.Another sticking point has beenTurkey’s preconditions related tothe Karabakh conflict, but thoseappear to have been set aside forthe moment.Long-held suspicionsand mountingspeculationsWith Turkish officials saying that aCongressional resolution about theArmenian Genocide would undermineprogress in the normalizationof relations between Turkey andArmenia, many longtime observerswonder whether the speculationsare just intended to providean excuse for President Obama togo back on his pledge to recognizethe Armenian Genocide.Already, when asked about theissue, spokespersons for the WhiteHouse have responded repeatedlythat the administration’s “focus ison how, moving forward, the UnitedStates can help Armenia andTurkey work together to come toterms with the past.”Turkish media has speculatedfor months about an imminentbreakthrough in relations betweenArmenia and Turkey, and Westernmedia too have started speculatingon the topic. Much of the fodderfor such speculation has been providedby officials involved.Both Armenian and Turkish officialshave said a breakthrough isclose.Foreign Minister Nalbandian saidlast November in Istanbul that Armenia-Turkeynormalization “couldbe done in a quick way, because I donot see any major obstacles.”According to Turkey’s Sabahnewspaper, senior members of theTurkish parliament for the rulingparty, visiting Washington lastmonth, told their congressionalcounterparts not to move on theArmenian Genocide resolution, asan Armenia-Turkey deal was imminent.Other officials told the ArmenianReporter they believe some kind ofa deal is likely, although one keyArmenian official discounted newspaperreports.Armenian Relief Society members with 50 or more years of service were honoredwith corsages and certificates given by the Eastern Region. Ten out of 12 honoreesare in the photo with Abp. Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate.End-game, kind ofTen months ago, when the ArmenianReporter asked experts if theyexpected such a breakthrough,most were not optimistic.It was in the editorial pages of theWall Street Journal on July 9, 2008,that President Sargsian first soughtto convey his determination to normalizerelations with Turkey. Theinitiative since then seems to havebeen boosted by the aftermath ofthe war in Georgia – which drewRussia and Turkey closer together– and the election of Barack Obamaas U.S. president.President Abdullah Gül madehis unprecedented half-day visit toYerevan in September.And two months ago PresidentSargsian and Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdogan met at Davos,Switzerland, shortly before Mr.Erdogan’s stormy departure from apanel on which he appeared withthe Israeli president.More talks have taken place betweenthe two countries’ foreignministers and other officials.Expectations for a breakthroughhad been raised before, perhapsartificially so. But the talks do appearto be reaching a kind of anend-game.Turkish leaders’ overriding concernseems to be to get PresidentObama to continue the previousadministrations’ policies on theArmenian Genocide issue. The firstcrucial test of that will be PresidentObama’s comments on the subjectin Turkey and in the anticipatedApril 24 commemorative statement.From the Turkish perspective,success in getting President Obamato sidestep the issue should be agood enough catalyst for a positivechange in Turkey’s policy towardArmenia. But this is true onlyif, as a senior Turkish official toldthis newspaper, it is in fact theirintention “to have best relationswith Armenia,” and “good relations”with Armenians in the diaspora. You share the samecommunity. 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4 The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009CommunityArmenians build a new Armenia in Naples, FloridaWhen two of themmeet, what elsewould you expect?by Paul ChaderjianNAPLES, Fla. – Florida in theAmerican lexicon equates to recreation,retirement, rest, and relaxation.Among the top dozen destinationsthat are known around theworld is a small city of an estimated22,000 residents on the westerncoast of the Sunshine State. Thiscity, in Collier County, earned itsname thanks to its reputation forovershadowing the original Bay ofNaples, Italy. The accolades Naples,Florida, has earned include consistentlybeing named as one of thetop five places to live in the U.S. Itsten-mile beach on the Gulf of Mexicohas been named the best beachin the U.S. The city is also known asthe Golf Capital of the World andboasts more than 80 championshipgolf courses.Naples is where people who valueserenity, beauty, cleanliness – paradise- come to vacation or spendtheir retirement years. Amongthose who have a residence hereare Bill Gates, Donald Trump,Steven Spielberg, and Armenian-American philanthropist GerardL. Cafesjian, a former executive ofWest Law Publishing, who createdthe Cafesjian Family Foundationand owns and operates the ArmenianReporter.Like Gerard and Cleo Cafesjian,who spent decades working hard,raising a family, succeeding in business,and realizing their AmericanDream in big metropolitan, concretejungles, many others come toSouthwest Florida to enjoy everymoment of a vacation or their retirementyears. It’s a place to enjoythe good life, a wonderfully temperateclimate, nice people, greatshopping, and good food.More than two hundreds Armenianfamilies are known to haveresidences in Naples and interactwith other Armenians through twolocal organizations. The first, establishedmore than a decade ago,is the Armenian American CulturalSociety of South West Florida(aacs). The second organization isthe Armenian Church of SouthwestFlorida, whose parish mission inNaples organizes monthly celebrationsof the Divine Liturgy andhosts its visiting mission priest, Fr.Nerses Jebejian.Mark from MarcoIslandThis weekend, the first character inthis story of Southwest Floridians,84-year-old Mark Nahabedian,will be among American soldiersbeing honored by the French Embassywith a Chevalier Award forbeing part of the forces that liberatedFrance toward the end of theSecond World War. Mr. Nahabedianserved in the American army inFrance from 1944 to 1945.In 1970, Mark decided to buy avacation place in the Naples-MarcoIsland area. He and his wife, Helen,and their three daughters lived inMorton Grove, outside Chicago, atthe time. Mark operated a flooringJerry Alajajian. Photos: Arsen Serobian.Maida Domenie.Mark Nahabedian.business and owned a carpet-tilesupply company. He would eventuallyoccupy himself full-time investingand managing properties.When the family still lived outsideChicago, Mark and his familywould vacation in Miami but foundthe east coast of Florida too crowded.Flash forward a few decades, andMark has become a central figurein the local community while hisyoungest daughter, Carrie Na-Pamela Torosian.habedian, is a world-famous chefwho has held executive-chef postsat the Four Seasons and Ritz Carltonhotels. Carrie now runs herown restaurant, Naha, in Chicago,and has garnered a number ofprestigious accolades – includingthe 2008 James Beard FoundationAward for best chef in the GreatLakes region – as well as rave reviewsfrom national and internationalpublications, among themher hometown’s Chicago Tribune.While the family had discussedlooking for a vacation home inFlorida, Mark surprised his wifeand daughters one Sunday in 1970by buying an apartment site unseen.“Normally, I’m the one who goesto church, but I stayed home thatSunday while they went to churchand was looking through the traveland properties sections of the pa-Continued on page 5


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009 7CommunityNorair K. Deirmengian (Norman K. Miller), 94, inventorCelebrating ZabelVaradian’s lifeNORWOOD – Isabelle Shiranianwas born on November 14,1925, in New York City, to Abrahamand Vartig Shiranian. She excelledacademically at Central HighSchool and was a member of theNational Honor Society. She was aproud member of the ProvidenceVarantian Chapter of the ArmenianYouth Federation and participatedin the Sts. Vartanantz Church Choirand Ladies Guild for many years.To support her family after herfather’s death, Zabel worked for ajewelry manufacturer during herhigh-school years. After graduation,she became an executive secretaryat U.S. Life Insurance Co.During World War II, the femalemembers of the Providence ayfwrote to the Armenian soldierswho were in the battlefield. Zabelpulled out of a hat the name of Melkon(“Mal”) Varadian, who was stationedin North Africa with GeneralPatton’s 7th Army. When Melkonreturned to the States, they met atan ayf meeting, and their 61-yearjourney together began.Two years after their meeting,Melkon and Zabel were married,and shortly afterward, they started afamily. The couple would be blessedwith three children, Michael (Armenie),Sandra (Megerdich), and Malcolm(Kristen); grandchildren Nick,Siran, Antranig, Armen, Melkon,Sarah, and Ani; and great-grandchildrenEmily, Nicholas, and Carl. Allwere to join the Providence ayf.In 1956, Mal and Zabel purchasedthe Public Street Market in SouthProvidence, which they operatedfor 40 years until their retirement.Arthur (“Jake”) Butler came onboard as a young man, devotingmany years to Zabel and Mal in theoperation of the store. Jake, hiswife Sandy, and their family remaincherished friends to this day.The couple hired and mentoredcountless family members andPHILADELPHIA – After a shortperiod of illness, Norair KarekinDeirmengian, also known as NormanK. Miller, went to meet hismaker on January 19 after a briefperiod of illness. He is survived byhis wife of 59 years, Virginia, theirfive children, two daughters-in-law,one son-in-law and ten grandchildren.He was a loving and inspirationalhusband, father, grandfatherand mentor. Always smiling, alwaysoffering a helping hand, he touchedthe lives of everyone he met.Norairwas born in 1914 in Kasken Maden,near Bolis, while his mother wasfleeing the Armenian Genocidealong with her two young sons. Hisfather had been killed prior to hisbirth. His mother found refugefor the family in Romania, whereNorair was placed in an orphanage.Norair excelled academically andwas sent to Murat Rafael ArmenianCollege Preparatory School in Venice,Italy. After graduating in 1935,he emigrated to the United Stateswhere he was reunited with his familyand enrolled at the University ofPennsylvania in Philadelphia.Norman was thankful for thefreedoms found in his new country.Not yet a citizen, in 1941, he enlistedin the U.S. Army. He was sent tothe South Pacific where he playedinstrumental roles in the Battle ofLayte and the Guadalcanal Campaign.During his service, he showedhis inventive talents by developing amethod of cushioning military tankinteriors to prevent injuries and wasissued a commendation for creatinga method to repair and improvementthe Reisling gun.He returned to Philadelphia tostart a manufacturing businesswith his two brothers. Originallyknown as Miller Brothers,Miller Edge grew to become anindustry leader in safeguardingneighborhood youths. They providedthe first employment for dozens ofyoung men who grew to be familyfriends and successful members ofthe Rhode Island Armenian-Americancommunity. Holding court at thePublic Street Market, Zabel and Maloffered guidance in the business, athletic,and personal lives of many. Theirservice and generosity benefited individualsand families, and made a lastingimpression on the community.Family was an important part ofZabel’s life. Having lost her fatherat an early age, she gave constantattention to her mother and uncle,Sarkis Keri Marderosian, both ofwhom lived near the market. Shewas very proud and fond of hermany nephews, nieces, cousins,and other extended family members,speaking of them affectionatelyand often, and was a lovingsister to Dickran (Marie Rose) andCharlie Shiranian, deceased.Despite her many illnesses andsurgeries, Zabel kept people happywith her kind demeanor and beautifulsmile. She took great joy in theaccomplishments of her children,grandchildren, and great-grandchildren,relishing their celebrationsand graduations. She also enjoyedthe constant company of her“grandpuppy,” Mollie.She will be remembered for herwonderful sense of humor. Zabellaughed heartily when, at one event,she and Mal were accidentally leftbehind in an empty school parkinglot. The family caravan drove off,everyone thinking the others hadMal and Zabel with them!The Varadian family appreciatesthe kind devotion of Zabel’s manyfriends and family in the Providencecommunity who were sosupportive throughout the years.In lieu of flowers, memorial donationsmay be made to Sts. VartanantzChurch Endowment Fund andayf Camp Haiastan.for motorized doors, gates andautomated machinery markets.Under his leadership, Miller Edgewas issued over 100 patents inthe U.S. and abroad. He was recognizedmultiple times for hisprofessional achievements. In1991, Norman received the DistinguishedService Award fromthe Door & Operator Dealers Associationhonoring his personalachievements. In 1998, MillerEdge received the InternationalDoor Association Industry ServiceAward. In 2007, he receivedthe International Door AssociationHumanitarian Award.Norman was always thankfulfor the freedoms and successes hefound in the United States. He alsokept a special place in his heart forthose suffering in his Armenianhomeland. Following the devastatingArmenian earthquake of 1998,Norman organized the collection“Torch of Liberty” billboard to urgeGenocide recognitionby Rosario TeixeiraWATERTOWN – The ArmenianGenocide commemorative billboardis scheduled to go up on Watertown’sArsenal Street April 6. In the middleof the billboard, the torch of liberty isurging the United States to officiallyrecognize the Armenian Genocide.The commemorative billboard issponsored by Peace of Art, Inc., anon-profit organization which usesart as an educational tool to bringawareness to the universal humancondition, and promote peacefulsolutions to conflict.Around the same time that theArmenian Genocide commemorativebillboard will be installed,President Obama will visit Turkeyas part of his international tour. Ithas been speculated that he mayNorair K. Deirmengian, 1914–2009.of used copier and fax machines.The machines were refurbished atthe Miller Edge warehouse, packedwith clothing for cushioning andsent to Armenia to help businessesrebuild. In 2004, he donated thefunds required for the constructionof a water treatment plant in theArmenian Village of Nor Gatashen.influence the opening of the bordersbetween Turkey and Armenia.Everyone has been following PresidentObama as he engages in carryingthe torch of liberty and attempts toopen dialogue for peace and cooperationwith all nations. The Armenia diasporahas been following PresidentObama as well, and waiting for theofficial recognition of the ArmenianGenocide by the United States.“Political compromise is not a solutionto this problem,” said DanielVaroujan Hejinian, the founderof Peace of Art, Inc. He added thatrecognition of the Armenian genocidewill contribute to discouragingfuture use of genocide as a sociopoliticalsolution. “In addition, itwill contribute to the political stabilizationin the region, and it willimprove and normalize relationsbetween Armenia and Turkey.” Prior to his donation, the peopleof this village had no clean runningwater. In 2007, he donated aclassroom to the Armenian ReliefSociety Daily School at St. Mary’sin Toronto, Ontario.Norman was a lifetime activemember of St. Gregory’s Churchin Philadelphia. He was a memberof Armenian Bowling League, St.Gregory’s Men’s Club, Knights ofVartan, Masonic Brothers. He alsowas a supporter of anca, ayf, ArmeniaFund, and other organizationstoo numerous to note.Norair Deirmengian (Miller) waslaid to rest on January 24, 2009 atArlington Cemetery in Upper Darby,Pa., following funeral servicesheld at St. Gregory The IlluminatorArmenian Apostolic Church.In lieu of flowers, please send donationsto: St. Gregory ArmenianApostolic Church, 8701 Ridge Avenue,Philadelphia, PA 19128. Onstage at theKennedy CenterFamily Theater:“The GeorgetownBoys”WASHINGTON – Following theArmenian Genocide of 1915, thousandsof children were orphaned.From these, 109 were brought toGeorgetown, Canada, to be trainedas farmers. “Canada’s noble experiment”has been called the country’sfirst humanitarian act on an internationalscale, yet the young refugeeswere to face culture shock anddiscrimination in their adoptedhome.On April 25, the Hamazkayin ArmenianEducational and CulturalSociety New Jersey Chapter–YouthTheater Group will bring their storyto life in a production organizedby the Armenian Genocide CommemorativeCommittee of GreaterWashington.“The Georgetown Boys,” a musicalby Herand Markarian, will be onstageat the John F. Kennedy Centerfor the Performing Arts FamilyTheater, 2700 F St. NW. Washington,D.C., at 7:30 p.m. connect:Elo Tanashian 1-301-740-2751or Garbis Muradian 1-703-836-0827(10 a.m. to 7 p.m.)Edward D. Jamie, Jr. Funeral Chapel, LLC208-17 Northern Blvd. Bayside, NY 11361Tel. 718-224-2390Website: www.jamiejrfuneral.com.Serving the Armenian Community Since 1969Edward D. Jamie, Jr.-NY&NJ Licensed Funeral Director


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009 9CommunityPT ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANTFOR NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONLooking for bright, mature, multi-lingual (Armenian/French/English)individualwho is well organized and pays attention to detail. Must be computer savvy and have strong planning and problemsolving skills. Potential for advancement to FT Administrative Assistant.Contact the Armenian American Health Professional Organization (AAHPO)at 201-546-6166 or info@aahpo.org.Professor Simon Payaslian.Quick,someoneinterviewthis man!LOS ANGELES – A panel ofchairholders in Armenian studiesand directors of Armenian studiesprograms convened at ucla onMarch 28 discussed the state of thefield. Asked about interest in thefield among Armenian- Americans,panelists noted that scarce job opportunitiesscare students away.Simon Payaslian, who headsa new program at Boston University,put the blame squarely on theshoulders of Armenian-Americanmedia. He said Armenian newspaperswrite about Armenian studiesonly if they receive a press release.He noted that no Armenian paperhas interviewed him.The Armenian Reporter has recentlyinterviewed other professorsof Armenian studies, includingR.H. Dekmejian and RichardHovannisian, and it is truethat enrollment in their programsis higher than that in the BostonUniversity program. The correlationis not entirely obvious, however.—V.L.Visit us at the newreporter.am


10 The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009CommunityArmenians build a new Armenia in Naples, Florida Continued from page 5late Gus Barber of Barber Foods,which began its chicken and beefbusiness in the 1950s.“Jim Derderian, who is from Bethune,Massachusetts, and Gus Barber,from Cape Elizabeth, Maine,would have a little picnic at the park,and there would be about 20 people,”remembers Mark Nahabedian.“One day they decided to inviteme, because I knew about half ofthem. So from then on, that wenton for about ten years. Then, whenMaida started this organization, acouple of times we had parties atthe beach. Then we got involvedwith Jim and Gus, and that’s howit worked out.”Gus Barber passed away lastsummer, but Mark says the Naplescommunity will always rememberhim as a great guy, and a very benevolentguy.“I introduced him to a friend fromWatertown,” says Mark, “and Gusdonated $100,000 to the ArmenianTree Project. Two years ago, wehappened to be in Armenia, and Iwent into the tree project orchard,and I was very impressed.”Mission parishAhead of the start of the Lent season,the local Armenian communitycelebrated Poon Paregentan,the service that takes place the lastSunday before the start of Lent.Officiating the service was visitingparish priest Fr. Nerses Jebejian.“Up until this time, we had neverhad a service on the Sunday beforeLent,” says Pamela Torosian ofthe Naples Parish. “So we’re veryhappy to have had the service thisyear. Afterwards we went to a restaurantand actually had an Italiandinner and had a party. We hadabout 67 people – which during theseason is a fair number for us.”Pamela says an average of 60 peopleparticipate in their monthly liturgicalservices, which are held at differentchurches throughout the year.“During the season, we have allthe snowbirds come down fromthe north,” says Pamela, “and wefeel strongly that it’s important totry to provide badarak services forthem once a month, when they’reso used to having it once a weekup north.”Pamela and her late husbandmoved to Naples 17 years ago. Shesays her husband’s main concernwith living in Naples was that therewas no local Armenian church.“My husband, along with myself,and another couple, Sylvia andBob Raubolt, started the missionparish down here in SouthwestFlorida,” she says. “It takes aboutan hour and a half to go to thechurch services on the east coast,and about two and a half hours togo north of here, so we thought itwas important to provide that servicefor the people of SouthwestFlorida.”Pamela and other members ofthe Parish Council hope that in thenext few years the local communitywill be able to buy or build its ownArmenian church.“We have a unique situation downhere with the number of retireesthat we have,” she says. “A lot of ourmembers have been very active intheir church parishes, so we have alot of experience.”After her husband passed away,Pamela, who is not Armenian, decidedshe wanted to play an activerole in the Parish Council, as she haddone when her husband was alive.“It was his passion, and I’d alwaysbeen very active with the Armenianchurch, because it was a very warmfamily that was very welcomingwhen I married my husband up inthe Greenfield area, up in Wisconsin,”says Pamela. “When I camedown here, I had that same kind ofreception. So I was very supportivewith his ethnic and religiousbackground. I feel it’s important tocarry it on, not only because of him,but also because I have Armenianstepchildren and Armenian grandchildren.You have to lead by example,you know.”Fr. NersesJebejian.The visiting Der HayrFr. Jebejian is one of several missionpriests who serve communitiesunder the auspices of theEastern Diocese of the ArmenianChurch.“I started coming to Naples oncea month around 1999-2000,” saysFr. Nerses, who resides in PompanoBeach, on the east coast of Florida.“I divide my time, mostly weekends,and I go wherever I have to.”This former director of the MissionParish Program of the Dioceseoversaw 22 mission parishesat one time. Under his direction,Armenian priests celebrated theliturgy across the Eastern U.S. incommunities that did not have apermanent parish priest. Since hisretirement from that post, he providesspiritual council to communitiesincluding Naples, Baton Rouge,Kansas City, and Atlanta.“Here in Naples, there’s a largecommunity of Armenians,” he says.“In the wintertime, there are about300 families that come from aroundthe country. In the summertime,we have 200-225 families.”Fr. Nerses’ hope for the communityis that the new five-memberParish Council will secure a permanentlocation for the church andhold weekly services.“It’s very easy to go to a Catholicchurch, a Greek church, an Episcopalchurch, do a service, and get out,”he says. “But in order for somethingto survive, it has to have continuity,and for [community members] tohave continuity they need a place,a building. They need a residence.They need a house where they cancontinue their tradition, their religiouslife, their faith, and theirspiritual nourishment and growth,Continued on page 11


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009 11CommunityArmenians build a newArmenia in Naples, Florida Continued from page 10and in order to do that, you needa place.”The Aleppo-native knows firsthandhow a permanent structurecan change the life of an Armeniancommunity. He has helped communitiesin Louisiana, Kansas, andGeorgia acquire locations, raisefunds, and build churches.“I had been going to Baton Rougesince 1983, for instance,” he says. “Iused to go once a month. In 2002, Itold them, ‘I’ve been coming heresince 1983, and nothing has beenhappening.’ It’s a very small community.All they have in Louisianais something like 40 families. I saidthat there’s no sense in me cominghere, if you people are not going tohave something here, a communitycenter, a church. And I said, ‘Dosomething else.’”A week after Fr. Nerses’ talk withLouisiana Armenians, he receiveda call from the chairman of the localparish, who told him the communitywas ready to take the nextstep. Fr. Nerses returned to BatonRouge and helped the local Armeniansfind a suitable site, a formerpiano store and storage facility, dothe bidding, and buy the building,which soon was consecrated asan Armenian church (Community,March 21, 2009).“In the Louisiana area, we don’thave families or individuals whohave that kind of money,” Fr. Nersessays. “The chairman of the ParishCouncil gave a large amountof money, and that excited otherpeople in the community. It excitedyoung people, and they gave somemoney. One gave a thousand. Onegave three thousand. One gave ahundred. Two kids came and said,‘We’ll give you ten dollars,’ and webuilt a church over there.”Fr. Nerses pushed a similar initiativein Kansas City, where thecommunity purchased a formerCatholic church and is expecting avisit from Primate Khajag Barsamianafter the completion of constructionprojects.Before being assigned to multipleparishes and the Parish PriestProgram, Fr. Nerses worked forthe World Council of Churches andrepresented the Armenian Churchat international conferences allaround the world.“I was ordained a deacon in 1964and went to St. Nersess ArmenianSeminary in Evanston,” says Fr.Nerses. “I went to Geneva, Switzerland,and I studied at the EcumenicalInstitute. Then I worked at theWorld Council of Churches, and itwas quite an interesting experience.”At the World Council of Churches,Fr. Nerses was assigned to workon youth affairs, which led to hisassignments as a mission priestwithin the Diocese of the ArmenianChurch. Now his personal missionis to see that communities like theone in Naples find their own cornerof their small cities to build an Armenianchurch.connect:hobodory@comcast.nettorosp@comcast.netLet us know what’s on your mind.Write to us atletters@reporter.am


12 The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009CommunityArmenians of Colorado Host American University of Armenia GuestsLOUISVILLE The Armeniansof Colorado welcomed RonaldAltoon and Edward Avedisianto Louisville on March 24 with afestive reception and a full tableof delicious Armenian delicaciesprepared by the AOC board members.The group gathered at thehome of Betty and John Ohannessianto hear Mr. Altoon describehis experiences in designinga state-of-the-art educationalbuilding for the American Universityof Armenia. (See stories inthe Armenian Reporter for Nov. 8and 15, 2008.)Dr. Kenell Touryan, an aocmember and aua’s vice presidentfor research and development,welcomed the 35 guests, includingBruce Janigian, aua’s vice presidentfor development and governmentrelations, and Dan Maljanian,aua’s director of development.aua’s founding chairpersonof the Board of Trustees and formerUniversity of California officialWilliam Frazer is an Aspen,Colorado, resident and had hopedto attend, but weather preventedhim from traveling.Mr. Altoon, founding design partnerof Altoon + Porter Architectsin Los Angeles, presented slides ofthe $16 million Paramaz AvedisianBuilding project and described thenumerous challenges he faced inbringing new building techniquesand environmentally sensitive solutionsto the country of Armenia.The 100,000-square-foot building,which doubles the size of the auacampus in Yerevan, added a newlecture hall, classrooms, laboratories,research centers, faculty offices,conference rooms, a café, andan art gallery. The project was establishedwith a lead gift from thefamily of Khoren and ShooshanigAvedisian.Mr. Altoon and Mr. Avedisian, ofLexington, Massachusetts, werein town to make a presentation tothe Society for College and UniversityPlanning (scup) conferencein Boulder on March 25. QuotingWilliam Saroyan, Mr. Altoon remarkedthat aoc had indeed createda “New Armenia” by joiningtogether in the state of Coloradoand providing Armenians with theopportunity to gather and enjoyfellowship. He also invited the Armeniansof Colorado to join aua inits efforts to support the future ofArmenia by ensuring the availabilityof high-quality graduate education.Mara Gevorgian, an aocmember and a graduate of aua’sbusiness school who now worksfor Standard & Poors, closed theprogram by telling of the impacther mba has had on her career andthe fond memories she has of hertime at aua.Armenians of Colorado, Inc. is a501(c)3 non-profit cultural organizationestablished in June of 1980.Its purpose is to create a cohesiveArmenian community and to furtherthe understanding of Armenianhistory, culture, language,customs, and heritage. aoc activelysupports issues and concerns ofthe Armenian-American communityin Colorado as well as thoseidentified within the Armeniandiaspora communities throughoutthe world.The group facilitates Armenianscholars and artists to share theirwork with the Colorado community.aoc also works with the DenverStarz Encore Film Festival, theDenver Symphony Orchestra, andOpera Colorado in supporting Armeniantalent from many parts ofthe world. It is through programssuch as these that aoc providesinspiring events and enhances culturaldiversity within the Coloradocommunity.In addition to offering stimulatingcultural and educational programs,aoc is working toward establishingan Armenian Cultural Center. aocrecently purchased a property inthe Denver area and hopes to raiseAt the Louisville,Colo., home ofBetty and JohnOhannessian,Armenians ofColorado gatherto hear architectRonald Altoonspeak about hisexperiences indesigning a stateof-the-arteducationalbuildingfor the AmericanUniversity ofArmenia. EdwardAvedisian, chairof the buildingcommittee, is secondfrom right.sufficient funds to build the centerin the near future.connect: www.armeniansofcolorado.org,www.aua.amCalendar of EventsNew YorkAPRIL 4 - “A Passion and aPurpose: A Tribute to Berc Araz”gala banquet will take placeon Saturday, April 4 at the St.Vartan Armenian CathedralComplex located at 630 SecondAvenue (at 35th Street) inNew York City. Reception is at7:00 pm and the Tribute Banquetand Program will begin at8:00 pm. For more information,contact Adrine Abdo at (973)761-1544, Arto Khrimian at(718) 937-7660, or Zakar Dikmeat (646) 387-6512.APRIL 16 - QUARTERLY FO-RUM SERIES - Rememberingthe Forgotten: The UntoldStory of Clergymen Lost to theGenocide. The second forumfeatures Yeretzgeen JoannaBaghsarian’s remarkable storyof how a group of her studentstook a proactive role in rememberingthese forgotten martyrs.There is no charge for the evening,but RSVP is requestedby email to events@armenianprelacy.orgor by telephone at212-689-7810.APRIL 16 - Symposium onPreventing Genocide ThroughDialogue Thursday, 7:00 P.M.Fordham Law School, Amphitheater,140 W. 62nd St, NYC.Admission: $12. AASSSG 2009Honoree, Andrew H. Tarsy,Awards given to Krieger EssayContest winners. visit www.meaningfulworld.com, e-mailkalayjiana@aol.comor call 201941-2266.APRIL 18 - “Hello Ellis Island”Musical entertainment by “TheWay We Were” about Armenianscoming to USA in 1920.8PM in the Auditorium of ArmenianChurch of the HolyMartyrs 209-15 Horace HardingExpwy in Bayside. Adults$20 – Children $10 under age12. Refreshments followingthe performance. For ticketscall the church office at 718-225-0235 or Lolita Babikian at347-742-4015.APRIL 30 - The Zohrab CenterFilm Series will view thecomedy/drama “Big Story in aSmall City,” on Thursday, at 7:00pm. Wine and cheese will beserved following the film. Suggesteddonation is $5. For moreinformation, please email ZC-FilmSeries@gmail.com or call212.686.0710. The Krikor andClara Zohrab Information Centeris located at 630 Second Avenue(at 34th street) New York,New York.MAY 3 - 32nd Annual Gala Dinner-Dance.St. Illuminator’s ArmenianDay School, Friday, 7:30p.m. at the Armenian Center 69-23 47th Ave. Woodside, NY. Forinformation call 718-478-4073.MAY 15 - 1st Annual CocktailReception at the Pratt House,NYC. Hosted by the ArmenianMedical Fund. $125. For informationcall Nancy Zoraian, 908-233-7279MAY 16- HMADS GALA DIN-NER DANCE hosted by the“Friends” at Russo’s on the Bay,featuring Addis Harmandianand his Band. Cocktails 7:30pm. Dinner 9:00 pm. Donation:$ 150. For Reservationsplease call, school office: (718)225 4826, Negdar Arukian: (718)423 4813.MAY 16 - SAVE THE DATE!60TH ANNIVERSARY DINNERDANCE OF THE NEW YORKARMENIAN HOME, Flushing,NY. Celebration to be held atHarbor Links Golf Course, PortWashington, NY. Featuring VaroujanVartanian and AntranigArmenian Dance Ensemble.Details to follow or call NYAH,(718) 461-1504


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009 13CommunityColumbia U tohold conferenceon ArmenianGenocide April 9NEW YORK – Andrea Kannapellof the New York Times willmoderate a Columbia Universitypanel on “The Armenian Genocideand its Relevance Today,” sponsoredby the Armenian Club, onApril 9. Prof. Taner Akçam, attorneyMark Geragos, and Dr. DavidHamburg are the featured panelistsat the 6 p.m. event in Davis Hall.Turkish-born historian and sociologistTaner Akçam holds the chairin Armenian Genocide studies atClark University; he is the authorof A Shameful Act and one of thefirst Turkish academics to openlydiscuss the Armenian Genocide.Renowned criminal-defense attorneyMark Geragos led successfulfederal class-action lawsuitsagainst both New York Life Insuranceand AXA for unpaid insurancebenefits from the time of the ArmenianGenocide.David Hamburg, Ph.D., presidentemeritus at Carnegie Corporationof New York, was awarded the PresidentialMedal of Freedom in 1996;he is the author of Preventing Genocide:Practical Steps toward Early Detectionand Effective Action.The panelists will highlight why itis still important to remember andactively discuss the first genocideof the 20th century; how its denialhas hindered subsequent attemptsat genocide prevention; and howlessons learned from the ArmenianGenocide can help to prevent futurewar crimes and crimes againsthumanity.A reception will follow the presentationsand audience discussion.Classified listings nowavailablePlease call818-955-8407or email us atclassifieds@reporter.amCalendar of EventsNew JerseyNOVEMBER 15 - “ONE NA-TION, ONE CULTURE” ACultural Festival organizedby Hamazkayin Eastern USARegional Executive, FeaturingAlla Levonian from Armeniaand Babin Boghosian& Ensemble from Los Angeles,With the participation ofAntranig Dance Ensemble ofAGBU, Akh’tamar Dance Ensembleof St. Thomas ArmenianChurch, Yeraz Dance Ensembleof St. Sarkis Church,NJ Hamazkayin Nayiri DanceGroup & Arekag Children’sChoir & Dhol Group. SUN-DAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2009.4pm. Felician College Lodi,New Jersey. Donation: $75,$50, $35, $25. For more informationor tickets please contact:Hamazkayin @ 201-945-8992 or Paradon2009@gmail.comConnecticutJANUARY 1 - MARCH 1 - EX-HIBIT - “WINDOW TO THEEXOTIC” by HOVSEP PUSH-MAN. Featuring 8 importantmaster works from a private collection.Abby M. Taylor fine Art,43 Greenwich, CT. For more info.call (203) 622-0906 or visit amtfine.art.comMassachusettsAPRIL 26 - ARMENIANMARTYRS’ DAY OBSER-VANCE BY ARMENIANGENOCIDE COMMEMO-RATIVE COMMITTEE OFMERRIMACK VALLEY. 3PM,North Andover High School,Route 125, North Andover,MA. Concert by Arlina Ensembleof Armenia. Complimentaryadmission. Receptionto follow.ACAA ARMENIAN HERITAGECRUISE XIII - 2010FT. LAUDERDALE, FL - Join Armeniansworldwide on the AR-MENIAN HERITAGE CRUISEXIII 2010. Sailing on Saturday,January 16-23, 2010. To San Juan,PR, St. Thomas and Grand CaicosIslands on the Costa Atlantica.Prices start at $679.00 per person.Contact TravelGroup International1-866-447-0750,ext 102 or108. Westcoast: Mary Papazian818-407-140; Eastcoast: AntranikBoudakian 718-575-0142Classifieds Female Armenian-Americanavailable for part- time nannyservices, located in the nyc area.Can speak fluent Armenian,teach piano and tutor children.Call Monique at 415-297-6804.Subscription Couponthe armenianreporterannual ratesU.S.A.: First Class Mail, $125; Periodicals Mail, $75Canada: $125 (u.s.); Overseas: $250 (u.s.)namestreetcity/state/zipCheck Enclosed OR Charge My:Mastercard Visa Amex DiscoverExp.mail coupon to: armenian reporterp.o. box 129, paramus, nj 07652orfax coupon to (201) 226-1660(credit card orders only)


14 The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009CommunityKim Kardashian is proudest of her Armenian genes and herArmenian vor, she says in exclusive US-Armenia TV appearanceBURBANK, Calif. – Celebrityand fourth generation Armenian-American Kim Kardashian gavean exclusive interview to US-ArmeniaTV on April 1, telling her Armenianand non-Armenian fans thatshe was proudest of her Armeniangenes and her Armenian vor. Notingthat her late father, O.J. Simpsonattorney Robert Kardashian,had dreamed of visiting Armenia,she announced that she plans tofulfill her father’s dream.Casual, gracious, funny, flirtatious,and always mesmerizing, thedrop-dead gorgeous 20-somethingreached out to some 7 million US-Armenia TV viewers over-the-airon digital channel 18.5 in SouthernCalifornia, via cable and the Globecastsatellite to the United Statesand North America, to Europe, theMiddle East and Africa on the globalHotbird satellite, and via terrestrialantennas all over the Republicof Armenia and the Armenian Republicof Nagorno-Karabakh.Kim spoke to Armenia TV personalitiesHovo and Rafo, tellingthem that she wanted to learn tospeak Armenian. For now, she said,she can say “inchbes es?” (how areyou) and “vor” (ass).Kim began the interview by talkingabout her hit series on the E!network, Keeping Up with the Kardashians.The reality show is alsolicensed by CS Media, which ownsUS-Armenia TV and with whichthis newspaper is affiliated.The Kardashian family, to mostfans, has an addictive appeal, luringpeople to Kim’s personal website,to the weekly airings and repeats ofthe series, and to magazines, printand TV reports about this Armenianfamily. Keeping Up with theKardashians began its third seasonwith a bang and with a promise toshow even the most personal conversationsbetween family membersand their love interests.In addition to her reality series,Kim talked about her new onlineKim Kardashian.enterprise called shoedazzle.com,where she and her team of styleexperts can help find the perfectshoes for any woman. “And youknow how much woman love theirshoes,” said the fashion guru.Kim also shared her beauty secretsand teased her new exercisedvd series called Fit in Your Jeansby Friday, now available at the Kardashian’sclothing stores in Calabasasand via the Internet.US-Armenia TV talk show hostPaul Chaderjian – who sat nextto Kim on the Armenia TV set inBurbank – shared Hovo and Rafo’squestions and comments with Kim.Kim said one of her dreams is tolearn how to make Armenian food.She said she often goes to a restaurantin Glendale to celebrate herlove for Armenian cuisine and tohonor her father’s memory.Chaderjian, a seven-year Englishlanguagenewscaster and talk-showhost on Armenia TV’s satelliteservices, said one of his colleagueswould gladly teach Kim how tomake Armenian food. “I would lovethat,” said Kim, “but I’d like to bringmy brother and sisters.”Hovo and Rafo said they wouldgladly be the superstar’s tourguides in Armenia, and Kim quicklyaccepted their offer, telling thecomedy duo that she loved them.Hovo, in his quick-witted, comedicvoice, asked Kim if she wouldmarry him, and Kim’s comebackwas “only if we can have a big, lavish,Armenian wedding.” Rafo thenbroke the news that Hovo was alreadymarried.Speaking of her father, Kim said,“He always regretted not sending usto Armenian school. My mom alwayssays, ‘I wish I knew Armenianso I could teach you.’”This need to learn about her ethnicheritage and to be able to communicatewith her own grandfather, whomshe said she visits every week, are twoof the reasons Kim Kardashian maysoon be landing at Zvartnots Airport,Armenian spirit celebrated in N.J. photography exhibitwith Hovo and Rafo and thousandsof fans ready to greet her. connect:kimkardashian.comshoedazzle.comPARAMUS – Bergen CommunityCollege will celebrate the Armenianpeople’s triumph over tragedywith the New Jersey premiere of“The Armenians: Spirit of Survival,”a photography exhibit sponsoredby the College’s Center for theStudy of Intercultural Understanding,the Bergen Community CollegePeace, Justice and ReconciliationCenter and the Bergen CommunityCollege Foundation. Gallery Bergen,the College’s 2,250-square-footart exhibition space, will housethe display from Saturday, April25, to Friday, May 22. The galleryis located on the third floor of theCollege’s high-technology and artsbuilding, West Hall, at 400 ParamusRoad, Paramus. The gallery’shours of operation are Tuesdays,Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m.to 6 p.m.; Wednesdays from 11 a.m.to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free andopen to the public.The exhibit, provided by Projectsave Armenian Photograph Archives,Inc., chronicles the struggleof the Armenian people in the late19th and early 20th centuries astheir culture, religion, language andvery existence were threatened bythe Ottoman, Russian and Persianempires, and then later by the SovietUnion. The Armenian peoplewere the targets of the 20th-century’sfirst genocide, which led tothe deaths of as many as 1.5 millionpeople in 1915. The Armenians persevered- in spite of great loss - andfound the spirit needed to thrive.Ruth Thomasian, executivedirector of Project save, will conducta presentation on Tuesday,April 28, at 2 p.m. in Gallery Bergenon the origins of the Armenianphotograph archives and onthe development of the exhibition.Project save, founded in 1975, is aWatertown, Mass.-based nonprofitwhose mission is to collect, documentand preserve the historicand modern photographic recordof Armenians and their heritage.Photographssuch as this one,by Soursourianand courtesy ofEdna Bogosian,depicting anunknownArmenian familyc. 1900, willbe on displayat BergenCommunityCollege’sArmenians:Spirit ofSurvival exhibit.Soursourianþ.Thomasian maintains the world’sonly photographic archive chroniclingthe journey of the Armenianpeople.The Gallery Bergen display willfeature 40 large photographs andinclude text documenting the Armenians’internment, mass executionand subsequent diaspora fromAsia Minor. Project SAVE’s 25,000photographs, which date from 1860,feature families living during the Ottoman,Russian and Persian empires,the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armeniaand the Republic of Armenia.Members of Project SAVE workclosely with photo donors to obtainthe images, which have appeared atEllis Island Museum in New York,the Smithsonian Institute, Washington,D.C., and in many booksand television programs.Bergen County has at least 8,500Armenian Americans, most ofwhom reside in the southeasternpart of the county.Bergen Community College is apublic two-year coeducational college,enrolling more than 15,000students in Associate in Arts, Associatein Science, and Associate inApplied Science degree programsand certificate programs. Morethan 10,000 students are enrolledin non-credit, professional coursesthrough the Division of ContinuingEducation, the Institute forLearning in Retirement, the PhilipJ. Ciarco Jr. Learning Center, locatedat 355 Main Street, Hackensack,and Bergen at the Meadowlands,located at 1280 Wall Street West,Lyndhurst.connect:bergen.edu1-201-447-7200


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009 17ArmeniaFrom Armenia, in briefGermany’s Minister ofState in ArmeniaMinister of State at the GermanFederal Foreign Office Gernot Erlerand the head of the German-South Caucasian parliamentarygroup of the German BundestagSteffen Reiche were in Armeniafor a working visit March 29-30.During their visit to the country,they met with President SergeSargsian, Prime Minister TigranSarkisian, Foreign Affairs MinisterEdward Nalbandian, Speakerof the National Assembly HovikAbrahamian and other high rankingofficials.Armenpress reports that PresidentSargsian told the German officialsthat Armenia is grateful forthe assistance Germany has providedsince independence, as it isthe second donor country as wellas one of the biggest trade partners.The president went on to say thatArmenia is very interested in deepeningand strengthening ties withGermany.The sides discussed the domesticpolitical situation, the peacefulresolution of the Karabakh conflict,emerging Armenian-Turkish relations,bilateral trade, the EU’s EasternPartnership Initiative, as wellas other issues of importance.PACE MonitoringCommission welcomesamendments incountry’s criminal codeThe Monitoring Commission ofthe Parliamentary Assembly of theCouncil of Europe (PACE), duringits session in Valencia welcomedamendments to articles 225 and300 to Armenia’s Criminal Code,Armenpress reports.David Harutyunyan.David Harutyunyan, head ofthe Armenian delegation to PACEsaid that taking into considerationthat the changes in the articlesare in force but have yet to beimplemented said, “The furtherimplementation of the law willGernot Erler (l.) and Edward Nalbandian. Photos: Photolure.continue to be under the limelightof the monitoring commission.”The law will be implemented bythe April session of PACE, when themonitoring commission will onceagain refer to the issue.Berdashen village inKarabakh to have newwater-supply systemFinanced by the Hayastan All-ArmeniaFund’s Argentinean affiliateand the government of Karabakh,the village of Berdashen inthe region of Martuni will have anew water-supply system, worth210 million AMD (about $555,000US).Berdashen’s water-supply systemwas built in the 1960s and wasfor a very long time in a state ofdisrepair. The pump station wasrenovated, cancer-causing asbestospipes were replaced with plasticones, and a 3.6-kilometer pipelinewas built, already supplying Berdashenwith water.The next phase of the initiative,the building of the internal waterdistributionnetwork, is underway.When this leg of the project is completedby autumn 2009, all 1,500residents of Berdashen will receivea regular supply of water, Armepressreports.Armenian-Swedishbusiness forum held inYerevanInfrastructure, energy, informationtechnologies, environmentalprotection are some of the topicsdiscussed at the Armenian-Swedishbusiness forum held in Yerevanon April 2. Participants also discussedprograms by the IMF, theinvestment climate in the country,relations between Armenia and theEuropean Union.Armenia’s minister of economy,Swiss deputy minister of trade,deputy foreign minister of Armenia,deputy minister of energy andnatural resources of Armenia andother officials took part in the forum,Arminfo reported.Byurakan Observatoryat the center ofscientific tourism?Hayk Harutyunyan, director ofthe Byurakan Observatory told representativesof big tourism agenciesoperating in Armenia gatheredin Byurakan that the observatoryshould be at the center of scientifictourism to Armenia.The director said that the regionwhich includes Oshakan, thechurches of the Ashtarak region,the summer residence of theCatholicos, the Fortress of Amberd,Karahunj (Armenia’s stone henge),Metsamor, and Aghdz would be anideal center for tourism.UNESCO has declared 2009 asthe year of International Astrologywith the goal to present astrologyto all spheres of society.The goal here is to promote andencourage tourists interested inastrology to visit the ByurakanObservatory, which thanksto renowned scientist ViktorHambardzumian became one ofthe centers devoted to the study ofastrology.World Autism Daymarked in Yerevan forthe first timeThe number of people sufferingfrom autism is growing in Armeniaand official statistics do not reflecttheir real numbers since childrenafflicted with this syndrome are oftentimes living completed isolatedfrom the public.A conference dedicated to sheddinglight on this issue and raisingawareness was held at the UN Yerevanoffice on April 2.Nani Oskanian.Nani Oskanian, chair of ChildrenHealth Care was on hand and said,“We are concerned about the futureof children with this syndrome. Weneed to look for ways of identifyingchildren with autism and help integratethem in society.” According toArminfo, Ms. Okanian went on tosay that they are working in threedirections to deal with autism. Firstit is important to have in place toolsfor early diagnosis and treatment;secondly raise awareness and thirdlyto initiate research in this sphere.“I should say with regret, that oursociety is not ready to discuss suchproblems,” she said.Deputy Health Minister TatulHakobyan said that the healthministry is paying special attentionto the rising cases of autism in thecountry.Nearly 60,000Armenians annuallyleave for Russia asseasonal workersArmenpress reports that due to theglobal financial crisis, the numberof Armenians going to Russia asseasonal workers will most likelydecrease. The reason being the reductionof available employment inRussia. Gagik Yeganian, head of Armenia’sMigration Agency said thateven longterm migrants may possiblereturn, primarily from Russiafor the same reasons.With less people traveling toRussia to work and more migrantsreturning, the pressure on thesystem in Armenia will deepen.According to Mr. Yeganian it willnot be possible to reintegratethese returning workers into theeconomy however their agency istaking certain steps to help smooththe situation. For example, theyare considering providing seeds ordairy cattle to migrants from thevillages so that they can at the veryleast, manage to have some formof income.Children’s book cover.A week of celebratingchildren’s books kicksoffUnder the auspices of the ArmenianWriters’ Union, a week celebratingchildren’s and young adultnovels kicked off in the city ofGyumri, Armenia’s second largestcity. Levon Ananian, head of theWriters’ Union told reporters thata prize for the year’s best children’sbook will be awarded.Children’s book writers will visitschools throughout the country,where they will have an opportunityto meet with students and presenttheir books.Mr. Ananian notes that todaythere are many good children’swriters who have written high qualitybooks. “We should be able to deliverthe book from the publisher tothe reader,” he told Armenpress. fByurakan Observatory.


18 The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009EditorialCommentarythe armenianreporterMoving Turkish-Armenian relations to a new levelU.S., Turkish, and Armenian diplomats have been spreading word that an agreement betweenTurkey and Armenia is imminent. The agreement would likely have the following elements:• Turkey would agree to open the border with Armenia, which it closed 16 years ago today,and to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia.• Armenia would agree to an intergovernmental commission to examine all issues thatconstitute the Armenia-Turkey agenda.• The United States would refrain from dealing publicly with any of the most contentioushistorical and contemporary issues on the Armenia-Turkey agenda while the commissionwas in play.(Alternatively, the sides will formally agree to discuss these matters further. In other words,a process rather than an outcome will be announced. Such a process could and likely would bedragged out indefinitely and thus, would have the effect of reinforcing the status quo.)If Turkey actually opens the border and agrees to establish diplomatic relations, it wouldbe taking steps in the right direction. The border closure has been illegal. Both Armenia andTurkey’s eastern provinces will see some benefits from open borders. And Turkey will gainsome credibility as a regional leader.Furthermore, if Turkey actually opens the border, it will signal that it no longer allowsAzerbaijan-Armenia relations to determine the nature of Turkey-Armenia relations. Such achange would be a welcome step toward regional stability and integration.Armenia’s challenge is to secure normal relations with Turkey while refusing to fudge onthe truth and ongoing relevance of the Armenian Genocide.Turkey’s challenge is that it needs to go beyond its annual pre-April 24 charm offensiveand actually do something with Armenia.The challenge for the United States is to secure results for the new foreign-affairs approachput forth by the Obama administration. Since President Obama has made repeated and unequivocalpromises to recognize the Armenian Genocide, ignoring it is not an option.In fulfilling his commitment, Mr. Obama would help move the relationship between Armeniaand Turkey to a new level. At that level, Turkey’s primary concern would no longer beto find a way to avoid settled history. Rather, the shared concern would be to find ways tomove forward to a brighter future.fThis April, read Balakian and OdianIn this first week of April, two memoirs on the Armenian Genocide appear for the first timein the English language. Both are well worth reading, and they are best read in conjunctionwith one another.Armenian Golgotha, by the high-ranking cleric Grigoris Balakian, has been translated byPeter Balakian with Aris Sevag, and published by Knopf. Accursed Years by the satirist YervantOdian, has been translated by Ara Stepan Melkonian, and published by the GomidasInstitute.Accounts by foreign observers in the Ottoman Empire in 1915–17 make up an importantpart of the literature on the Armenian Genocide. The testimony of U.S. officials – like ConsulJesse B. Jackson in Aleppo or Consul Oscar Heizer in Trabizon, and of missionaries likeHenry Riggs, Maria Jacobsen, and Tacy Atkinson in Harput, and Bertha B. Morley in Marsovan– give invaluable information. The testimony of Turkish and German observers addsan important perspective.In an effort to prove that the Armenian Genocide is not a figment of the Armenian imagination,some people dismiss Armenian testimony, focusing exclusively on foreign testimonythat may be seen as more “neutral.” But that is a serious mistake. The testimony of Armeniansurvivors is an irreplaceable source of information and insight into the genocidal experience.The publication of these two important memoirs in English is thus an important step.Grigoris Balakian’s account, long available in Armenian, gives the classic storyof the Genocide. He was among the 250-odd intellectuals and community leadersfamously rounded up on April 24, 1915. He came across decimated “deportation” caravansalong his own deportation route, which allowed him to form a broader picture.He spoke to Armenian deportees, Turkish officials, German engineers, bystandersand participants alike. Ultimately he was able to attest to the Der Zor massacre of1916, when tens of thousands of those who survived the deportation all the way to thedesert were killed off.Odian’s story shows that there were many variations on the classical story of the ArmenianGenocide. The subtitle is telling: “My Exile and Return from Der Zor, 1914–1919.” Zorwas not a place Armenians typically returned from. Odian arrived there in 1917, after the Zormassacre had run its course. His survival in a different part of Syria, which was under therule of Cemal Pasha, a member of the empire’s ruling triumvirate, suggests that the YoungTurk leadership was not unanimous in its approach to Armenians.Coming to Zor after the massacre, Odian was able to see Armenian survivors who had convertedto Islam – and to note that the population did not expect them to actually participatein religious rituals, suggesting that there was an effort to hide and protect Armenians.This April, as we prepare to mark the 94th anniversary of the Genocide and as we takeactive steps to encourage our elected officials to acknowledge the events as genocide, wewould do well also to increase our own store of knowledge. These two memoirs by prominentArmenians are an excellent place to start.fThe Armenian Church’s expanding role in the militaryby Father Simeon OdabashianVAGHARSHAPAT, Armenia – Some time agothrough Catholic television in the UnitedStates, I became aware of a high level ministryknown as the Archdiocese of the Military.This archdiocese has no geographical boundaries,yet it has a diocesan structure with anarchbishop based in Washington and priestchaplains stationed at every U.S. military installation,base, warship, etc. in the world.How pleased and proud I was to learn thatArmenia has a quickly developing ArmedForces Chaplaincy program. In 1997 CatholicosKarekin I appointed Father VertanesAbrahamian as the first chaplain of the ArmenianArmy. Since that time, the programhas grown to 30 chaplains, both priests anddeacons, serving Armenia’s armed forces. Atthe helm of this critical ministry is the sinceelevated Bishop Vertanes Abrahamian, himselfas veteran of the Karabakh war. Thisyear, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicosof All Armenians, elevated the chaplaincyprogram as well, and has since been granteddiocesan status. With Bishop Vertanes as itsfirst primate, the new Diocese of the ArmenianArmed Forces has been born.Last week I walked into a meeting of thechaplains and observed Bishop Vertanes atwork strategically ordering the young clergyin his charge. My immediate thought wasthat here is a spiritual general at work. Insome nations chaplains are granted militaryrank.Like its American counterpart, the Dioceseof the Armenian Armed Forces has aunique arrangement by which its religiousjurisdiction encompasses all army bases andmilitary institutes in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.According to a recent agreement betweenthe Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and theMinister of Defense Seyran Ohanian, chaplainsare to be a permanent presence withinthe life of our armed forces. In addition,plans have been approved for the erection ofa church for the military located close to theMinistry, where all official church/militaryevents will be held. This church will also meetthe spiritual needs of over 50,000 residentsin the Avan section of Yerevan.The Ministry of Defense headquarterscomplex, Armenia’s version of the Pentagon,is a sprawling, impressive structure, whichwas opened less than a year ago. With theapproval of the Defense Minister, BishopVertanes has been given an office withinthe Department of Human Resources. Hisoffice will eventually be equipped with moderntelecommunications capabilities, so thatthe Primate can be in frequent contact withchaplains, via voice and video conferencing.In the words of Colonel Rafael Tatevosian,“Bishop Vertanes and the chaplaincyprogram’s work are closely related to thework of our department. That is why his officeis located in our section. In our military,it is not enough to be physically fit and informedabout tactical strategies, it is evenmore important to have a solid ideological,cultural, patriotic, and religious background.Since we are in Khorenatsi’s words, a ‘PokrAdzoo-Small Nation’ and are easily outnumbered,our strength is in our ideological convictions.Part and parcel of this is the faith ofthe Apostolic Church, which is taught by thechaplains. Our soldiers need to be informedabout historical events like the Battle of Avarayr,for example.”While the Armenian Apostolic Church isthe only religious presence allowed by lawin military areas, to further strengthen thechurch’s presence, plans are in the works tobuild small chapels on every base and militaryschool. Bishop Vertanes envisions “chapelsbuilt on all of the military bases, where asoldier will go to pray, receive a blessing andwords of encouragement from the chaplainprior to his shift of duty. After completinghis shift he will go again to the chapel to offera prayer of thanks. This will help in relievingdanger-related stress.”While the Armenian border with Turkeyis well guarded by Russian Federation forces,the critical eastern boarder with Azerbaijanis defended solely by Armenian troops. Oneof Bishop Vertanes’ serious challenges is tofind qualified chaplains who can serve inthese most critical border areas.So why is this religious presence so important?Chaplains offer prayer and encouragementto the soldiers. They also provideeducation on the Christian faith andArmenian Church sacred traditions. Additionally,they offer Christian educationat seven military schools. Bishop Vertanesis proud of the fact that as of this year anew uniform curriculum was adopted foruse by all chaplains, which covers the basicteachings and history of the ArmenianChurch, as well as questions of moralityand spirituality. Next year, the curriculumContinued on page 19 mArmenian Reporter (ISSN 0004-2358), an independent newspaper,is published weekly by Armenian Reporter llc.Copyright © 2009 by ArmenianReporter llc. All Rights ReservedGerard L. Cafesjian, President and ceoPeriodicals postage paid at Paramus, N.J., andadditional mailing offices.POSTMASTER: Send address changes to PO Box129, Paramus, NJ 07652-0129.The views expressed, except in the editorial, arenot necessarily those of the publishers.Editor Vincent LimaAssociate editor Maria TitizianWashington editor Emil SanamyanEastern U.S. editor Lou Ann MatossianAssistant to the Editor Seda StepanyanCopy editor Ishkhan JinbashianArt director Grigor HakobyanLayout assistant Nareh BalianThe Armenian Reporter is your newspaper. We urge you to send us your news and yourviews.News. Please send your news to .Letters. Please send your letters to Letters should be no morethan 250 words long and may be edited for clarity. 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The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009 19CommentaryLiving inArmeniaThe stories we have yet to tellby Maria TitizianEvery Armenian family has a story to tell. Iknow that in my own particular family thereare many fascinating stories, treasures thathave been once told or perhaps tucked awayto be told for a later time, that are now fadinginto the foggy memories of the elders of thefamily. Some stories have forever been wipedout, some have died with our grandparents.How many times have I heard from a friendor acquaintance that they never got aroundto asking their parents or grandparentsabout particular episodes in their lives thatcoincided with sweeping historical events;the stories of their lives.I have made some weak attempts at writingabout my paternal grandfather whomI never met, based upon a bond we sharedthrough letters, now long lost. About mymaternal grandparents, I have writtennothing because even while acknowledgingthe significance of their lives in thenational mosaic of our people’s history, Iknow very little. I know that my maternalgrandfather was born in Urfa, sent on tothe deportations with his family and endedup in an orphanage in Aleppo. He was toldand believed that the rest of his family hadbeen killed.At the age of 14, escaping from the orphanagehe makes his way to Beirut. Yearslater (the details of which continue to eludeme) his older sister, who had also somehowsurvived, finds him through ads placed inArmenian newspapers of the day. They aremiraculously reunited only to be separatedonce again in 1946 when his sister repatriatesto Soviet Armenia. They parted in painand disagreement, and never spoke to oneanother again.I met my maternal grandfather’s nephew,his sister’s son, in Yerevan in 2001. He wasan old, broken and bitter man. Exceedinglyhandsome, even at an advanced age, therewas a constant and enduring rage that emanatedfrom him that was at once frighteningand at once familiar. That generation,whether in the diaspora or in the homeland,had seen so much pain and suffering. Theyhad lived through abject poverty, sometimesilliterate, with very little tools to protectthemselves against the harsh realities oflife and against the memories that torturedthem. They were survivors or children of survivors.Their suffering did not have a voice,rather it became a tangled knot trapped intheir bodies and often times perished alongwith them.My maternal grandmother, from Marashalso survived the Genocide but spent therest of her life battling the demons lockedup in her memories. When she arrived inCanada following the outbreak of civil war inLebanon, she was only 58 years old but youwouldn’t know it from looking at her. Shewore black clothes, had long white hair tiedin a tight bun at the nape of her neck andwas blissfully plump. She died before her 61stbirthday, and although surrounded by herchildren she died a sad and haunted woman.I can’t remember her ever laughing.We have the ability, through the printedword to relay stories that have significanceand substance. That give a voice to the sufferingof that generation. Stories which will intheir turn explain, impart, and record someof our collective history. The content, depthand humanity of what we write will affectour society and our communities dispersedthroughout the world.What we write serves as living history.What we write from Armenia allows ourcompatriots in the United States and otherparts of the world to get a glimpse, capturean image of life in the homeland. It allowsthem to be carried along with the politicaland economic currents that flow through theveins of this organism we call the motherland.It gives you the reader, insight and empowerment.From energy projects in the regionlike the Nabucco pipeline, to Armenian-Turkishrelations, to the prospects of a peacefulsettlement of the Karabakh conflict, to theThe Armenian Church’s expanding role in the militarydomestic political scene in the country, wereport on the events which shape our lives.And we have so much to learn. We have investigatedand reported on ethnic minoritiesthat live in peace and harmony in Armenia.Whether they are Assyrians, Yazidis, Greeks,or Molokans, they have the ability to educatetheir children in their native tongue andpractice their traditions unhindered. We allowthis as a nation and as a state becausewe know what it means to be discriminatedagainst.We learn from those who repatriatedto Armenia, whether that was during theGreat Repatriation of 1946-48 or the modernrepatriates. We report about the workthey do in the country, about their dedicationand commitment, and sometimes simplyabout their everyday lives in an emergingdemocracy, in a country struggling todefine itself.But whether we write about serious issues,or the lighter side of life, we do so in orderto share and impart issues of substance andsignificance, of our shared values.What we must do is continue to write thestories about us, about our families, our compatriots,our people, our nation. We mustcontinue to slowly weave the threads of ourindividual experiences to create a living andbreathing testament to what it means to bean Armenian today or a century ago. fn Continued from page 18will be further refined and modified for usein various settings.The primate of the military regularly inquiresregarding the chaplains’ effectiveness.He enjoys the utmost respect of the Ministerof Defense and thanks to this, generals arefrom time to time giving talks at the seminariesto familiarize future clergy with thespiritual needs of those serving in the militaryand to be enabled to minister to theirfamilies as well.The chaplaincy program is not taking placein a vacuum. There is on-going contact withchaplaincy organizations in other countries.For example, Bishop Vertanes will be attendinga meeting in the United Kingdom nextmonth, and in the near future groups will bevisiting from Greece and Russia. Though he isquick to point out that the Armenian Churchhas her own unique spiritual and cultural traditionsthat must be carefully adhered to.Historically, the Armenian Church hasbeen the spiritual backbone of the nation’sdefense. The role of clergy led by St. GhevontYerets at the battle of Avarayr in 451 is themost familiar. In the days of the first ArmenianRepublic, priests eagerly volunteeredto join the laity in arms. In October 1918,Archbishop Khoren Muratbekian (laterCatholicos Khoren I) proposed a pastoralguideline for “priest soldiers.” Priests wereto serve side by side with the soldiers, wearingtheir clerical attire, but never taking uparms. Like the chaplains of today, they werecalled to be a spiritual presence among theirflock and were “required with the colonel’sarrangement to lecture soldiers during freetime regarding the Bible and national-churchhistory, keeping alive the knowledge of theirresponsibility and love toward the nationand national sacred treasures.” They werealso charged with teaching prayer, conductingworship and providing opportunities forsoldiers to attend the Divine Liturgy.Duties of today’s chaplains are not so different.They have a significant presence onthe base, engaging the soldiers and officers inconversation of a spiritual nature, teachingclasses, visiting and praying for those in theinfirmary and solitary confinement. Soldiersare personally invited to attend the DivineLiturgy in a local church.In terms of vision, the primate would liketo see the Armenian Church be representedon the highest level in the military and thatthe clergy chaplains truly make a differencein the military by assisting in the moral andreligious formation of every soldier. To assistin this mission, the primate has published asmall prayer book, which will be distributedto every soldier.Bishop Vertanes also pointed out thatcults and other religious movements are ongoingchallenges, however, the ArmenianChurch is the only religious presence, whichenjoys official recognition. No other groupis permitted to proselytize in military facilitiesand Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to servetheir country. Members of other faiths arecertainly free to follow their religious convictionsand chaplains do not discriminateagainst members of other churches.After getting an overall picture of this programfrom Bishop Vertanes, I wanted to seewith my own eyes our chaplains in action.Deep down I wanted to see if their presencemade a difference or not and what sort ofreception they received.So I visited a military base located next tothe Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, wherethe chaplain is Deacon Sahak Sahakian.Regarding Deacon Sahak’s presence, MajorKaren Beglarian said, “It is of great helpand there is much need among the soldiers.The chaplain offers classes regarding theApostolic Faith. Each successive generationneeds to be informed regarding our cultureand faith so they won’t be led astray. It’s verybad when our people have no moral compass.Thus it’s very good to have Deacon Sahakhere. On the occasion of what would havebeen Sparapet Vazgen Sargsyan’s 50 th birthday,the deacon led a group of our soldiers tothe Mother See to pray in the cathedral andtour the museums. The army is improvingday by day. Being close to the cathedral keepsthe religion alive among the soldiers. Psychologicallythis has been of benefit.”Deacon Sahak pointed out that soldiers alsowent to the Mother See for the annual observanceof Military Day on January 28. Theyattended the Divine Liturgy with high-rankingclergy, members of the Brotherhood andthe Minister of Defense. Soldiers are taughtto pray before meals and at the beginning ofclasses. There are also prayerful observanceson special holidays. Deacon Sahak was alsoproud of the fact that because of the proximityof the Mother See, his soldiers have thehighest attendance rate at Divine Liturgy.It was clear that Deacon Sahak is greatlyrespected on the base. His routine includesdaily classes on the faith and traditions ofthe Armenian Apostolic Church. Examplesof topics are the practices of Great Lent andEaster, how to fight against sin and profanityand the practice of forgiveness. During HolyWeek he will escort a group of soldiers to theMother See to take part in the Washing ofFeet Service.The soldiers in his class had many questionsabout the faith and the essential differencebetween the Armenian Church andother religious movements. There is greatconcern about cults whose followers refuseto serve in the army and in the defense of theBishop Vertanes Abrahamian with soldiers from Armenian Armed Forces.nation. Some felt that these movements areset on infiltrating the nation and may havecertain connections with foreign powers.To the question does having a chaplainmake a difference, one soldier, Razmik Astryan,responded, “His presence changes asoldier’s life. Attending church is very positive.We are helped to sin less.”My interest also led me to the Marshal ArmenakGhamparyantz Air Force Institutewith Deacon Michael Barsaeghyan, who wasrecently appointed as its first chaplain. Similarto chaplains serving on bases, his role isfirst and foremost to impart the Christianfaith to the cadets both through classes aswell as via personal encounters. His presencein the institute has been warmly received bynot only the commander, but by staff andcadets alike.In Deacon Michael’s words, “I keep allmy encounters on a strictly official level. Ihave an excellent relationship with the commanderand officers and can say that I havein a very short time earned their respect.I try to do my best. I bring in interestingmovies and am working with AR TV stationto prepare programs on the Armenian armyand Marshal Baghramian. I am also planninga group baptism for cadets, who havenot yet been baptized. My dream is to havea chapel on the grounds of the institute,where we can celebrate the Divine Liturgy,light candles, pray and meditate. Somethingthat we have introduced is prayer beforemeals. Soldiers often approach me withprayer requests and questions about thefaith.” He also feels that this work is veryrewarding and will help him to be a moreeffective priest in the future.The assistant to the Commander of theinstitute, Colonel Zaven Hakobjanyanshared that “in the past religion was absenthere, but now we are very happy that DeaconMichael is here. We feel his spiritual presenceand we observe him to be passionate abouthis work. He is truly concerned about thefruit of his labors. The Mother See has trulyblessed us with this program. The cooperationbetween the Mother See and the militaryis very healthy.”Without any hesitation, it can be said theArmenian Apostolic Church is making greatstrides in meeting the spiritual and pastoralneeds of those serving in the military forcesin the Armenian Republic. The following illustrateshow this presence is truly movingthe souls of servicemen.During my visit to Bishop Vertanes’ office,a young soldier entered inquiring about beingbaptized. The primate warmly welcomedhim, gave him a New Testament and a smallwood cross and encouraged him to returnwhen they could further discuss the meaningof baptism and arrange for the sacrament.When I asked the primate if this was a commonoccurrence, he responded that the moreour Church’s presence grows, the more wesee this phenomenon of people (especiallythe young) reaching out for the saving sacramentsof God.f


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The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009


The Armenian Reporter | April 4, 2009

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