By Aram Arkun
NEWYORK — The gathering of several thousand Armenians in a public square in one of the most visible sites in the United States seems a fitting way to remember the past, and remind others who want to forget it.
This year because Easter was celebrated on April 24, the Times Square commemoration of the 96th anniversary took place on the following Sunday, May 1. Organizers estimated at least 2,000 people were present, and hundreds of thousands more walked by, or watched it on television. Turkish state television, along with several Armenian television and radio stations, recorded the event.
New Jersey lawyer Armen McOmber and Dr. Mary Papazian, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Lehmen College of the City University of New York, served as masters of ceremony. Vagharshak Ohanyan led the Arekag Children’s Choir of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society of the Eastern United States in several songs as well as the performance of the American and Armenian national anthems. Pianist and composer Karén Hakobyan led the choir in a special premier performance of his piece, Independent Armenia. Five important American politicians gave rousing speeches, along with representatives of four co-sponsoring organizations — Natalie Gabrielian, associate director of education at the Armenian General Benevolent Union; Bryan Ardrouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly; Doug Geogerian, Armenian National Committee Eastern Region director from 2004 to 2006, and representatives of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party and the Armenian Rights Council of America.
Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Primate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, and Fr. Vazken Karayan, pastor of Holy Cross Armenian Church of Union City, NJ and representing the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), offered invocations and closing benedictions. Their institutions were among the participating organizations, along with the Armenian Missionary Association of America, Armenian Presbyterian Church, the Armenian Evangelical Church of America, the Armenian Catholic Eparchy for the US and Canada, Tekeyan Cultural Association, Hamazkayin and numerous Armenian youth organizations. Buses brought Armenians from New York and New Jersey churches, as well as from the Knights of Vartan Boston Ararat Lodge and the Ardashad Lodge of Philadelphia. There were some attendees from as far away as California.