By Aznive Tchapadarian
AHA– these are the call letters for the Armenian Youth groups that came together for the first time this year to commemorate the 82nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. AHA stands for Armenian Students Organization, Homenetmen, and Armenian Youth Federation.
To start the week-long commemoration activities, a play and poetry reading were performed on Saturday, April 19, 1997 at the Hagopian Center. About 6:30 the program started with the youngest of the Homenetmen scouts reciting a poem “Argadz Jrak” (Sad Lantern) by Daniel Varoujan. It was music to my ears listening to the scouts recite in Armenian, in sync with one another. It was beautifully done. After the poem, the teenage scouts of the Homenetmen, re-enacted a narrated play by Siamanto, the narrators of the play were various members of the AHA.
The Scouts re-enacted the atrocities that occurred during the Genocide, to the women, children and men. Of course the re- enactment could never measure up to the real brutality that occurred. Crissi Jelladian read a few lines from a William Saroyan short, “The Armenian and The Armenian,” which relayed the message that Armenians will never die, for anyone who tries to destroy us or our culture will only make us, the Armenians, stronger. We will unite together to live long and prosperous lives.
After all the hard work that every one placed in this event, we ended the evening by having a bon-fire in remembrance of the 1,500,000 Armenians who were murdered and massacred. With the strong winds, and the amazing sunset behind the bon-fire I felt as though the spirits of the departed were with us and giving us their blessing, to continually fight for justice and remember their lives.
Ararat Cemetery, was the site of the second commemoration event, which took place on Sunday April 20, 1997.It was 10:00 o’clock and it felt as though the temperature was already over a hundred degrees. The sun, attacking our black, matching tee-shirts, was draining our energy, but we were working vigorously to prepare for the event. This was the most important event, because it was held at the memorial site for the Armenian Genocide, Ararat Massis Cemetery.
The various Armenian Youth Organizations arrived early in the morning to start to set up for the days events, by cutting carnations and tying ribbons to be distributed to the people. Various members of the youth groups spoke in terms of what this day meant to them and how it felt to be an American Armenian, first generation or second generation. We have a culture and religion that is our tie.
Steve Samuelian stated that “we need to remember and educate the public of the Genocide.” Mr. Samuelian stated “In 1991, only six years ago, a genocide was attempted again in Karabagh . They knocked on your door and if they found out that you were Armenian, they killed you on the spot. WE need to remember this day and educate the public, so that this type of violence does not occur again, not just for the Armenian people but for man kind.