The common theme of all speakers was the rich legacy that Berberian leaves behind as an accomplished editor, having written over 10,000 editorials in a career that spans over 65 years.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian in a simple yet potent narrative, depicted Berberian’s courageous fight in defense of the unassailable authority of the Holy See of Echmiadzin. He noted that he has read Berberian’s editorials and articles with interest and passion, praising his sense of duty and staunch feeling of everything Armenian. His inspiring words left a lasting impression on those present.
All the speakers highlighted Berberian’s dedication, as well as different aspects of his life.
Hagop Vartivarian, who initiated the idea of paying homage to Berberian for his achievements, single-handedly organized this evening. In his opening remarks, Vartivarian recounted his first days in “this promised land” as executive director of the TCA, located in Watertown, Mass. It was through Berberian’s relentless encouragement that Vartivarian developed his writing skills and is an accomplished writer in his own right. Vartivarian also publicly expressed his appreciation to Barsamian for not only attending this event, but for his public and active support.
Acting as the emcee, Vartivarian stressed time and again that he wants to conduct this event in a family atmosphere. He introduced speakers in a brief and precise manner.
There were two special guests who enriched the evening’s program with their eloquent speeches, Archbishop Norvan Zakarian the first primate of France and Arzoumanian from Montreal, Canada, chairman of TCA Central Committee. Both praised Berberian for his commitment as a journalist and selfless dedication to Armenian communities in which he has resided.
Vartivarian spoke fondly of Yervant Babayan, a noted educator, public figure and a writer, and of his son, Nerses, who was among the guests, adding that his granddaughter, Taleen, would make a statement on behalf of both her grandfather and father.
While some might have silently lamented a bygone era and Berberian as one of the vanishing breed, Taleen Babayan delivered a short and inspiring Armenian message underlying the fact that Berberian’s mission was not left unfinished and that she is a living example of that.
The highlight of the gala evening was Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), presenting the St. Nersess Shnorhali Medal and Pontifical Encyclical to Berberian on behalf of Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, a long-time active supporter of TCA events and projects, read the Pontifical Encyclical.
Zarmine Boghosian, principal of the Bayside Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School, in New York, eloquently and with details presented biographical notes about Berberian. It was indeed a journey of a noted journalist that took him from Europe to the Middle East and to North America. Boghosian read some published accolades from contemporary writers, praising the work of the honoree.
Araxie Diratzouian, read passages from one of Berberian’s editorials.
Adding to the family-style ambiance with a Parisian touch of the evening, Arpi Dadoyan and Armine Araz offered a few French melodies. Photojournalist Harry Koundakjian and Vartan Matossian of South America, added their voice to the chorus of praise.
In spirited remarks, Berberian publicly expressed his heartfelt thanks for the Pontifical Encyclical that was issued by the request of the good offices of Barsamian. He reiterated his resolute determination to remain a loyal soldier for the cause of Armenian Church unity, as Echmiadzin its supreme authority. In his characteristic savvy talking style, Berberian told the gathering that people usually have one birthplace. “I have six,” said the veteran journalist. “My first birthplace is the Armenian Church, the Armenian Church is the National Church,” declared Berberian.
Because of a sharp decline of Armenian readership in the Northeast, ADL does not have an official Armenian-language organ. Despite this, Berberian pledged to continue publishing articles on contemporary issues.
Berberian is perhaps one of the last few standing bridges between the likes of Arshag Tchobanian, Vahan Tekeyan, Kersam Aharonian and a new generation of Armenian journalists who write in English. He left no doubt in the minds of the audience that he will play this role with added vigor.