Banquet Kicks off Heritage Park Celebration

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By Alin K. Gregorian

Mirror-Spectator Staff

BOSTON — A reception at the Renaissance Hotel on Monday, May 22, kicked off the celebration of the opening of the Armenian Heritage Park, during which the community and dignitaries from Armenia and the US came together in a show of support and gratitude. The event was hosted by the Armenian Embassy in Washington, the Armenian Heritage Foundation and the local Armenian community.

The sold-out gala was emceed by Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian, who as a former state representative, was actively involved in helping pave the way for the creation of the park along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

Her former colleague, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, who was honorary chairman of the project, brought forth the Middlesex County Color Guard, who opened the banquet carrying the flags of Armenia, the US and Massachusetts.

The program highlighted both the unity of the Armenian community in working through
the tortuous road to creation and execution and the ties between Armenia and the diaspora.

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The theme of unity came up again and again. Koutoujian said the park was a great example of how the community can work together. He also thanked some of the many non-Armenians in the community who helped the project along, including the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the Boston-American Jewish Committee and the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, as well as the residents of the North End.

During the program, three persons who have made great contributions to the community
received the Movses Khorenatsi medal from Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian, on behalf of President Serge Sargisian: James Kalustian, the president of the Armenian Heritage Foundation, who has helmed the park project for a decade; playwright Dr. Hrant Markarian, founder of the Hamazkayin theater group in New York, and editor and Tekeyan Cultural Association stalwart Dr. Nuba Berberian.

In his remarks, Dr. Noubar Afeyan referred to the reason for the absence of the guest of
honor, Armenian President Serge Sargisian. “In international diplomacy, Turkey and Azerbaijan put pressure on Nagorno Karabagh. It is wholly inappropriate for our interests,” he said, praising the president for not attending the NATO summit in Chicago.
He said he had been disappointed about the absence of the president from other scheduled
events in the US, on the heels of the Chicago summit. But, he said, once he started thinking
about the chain of events, he saw the silver lining.

He said it takes strength for Sargisian and Armenia to take such a stance. Afeyan noted that the park is a “beautiful way of saying thank you” to Boston by the
local Armenian-American community.

The project also “will usher in a new movement in our community,” he said, one in which the past will be remembered, while channeling that pain into creating positive, forward-thinking projects.

The park, he said, is important enough to warrant the presence of the top leadership of the republic. The ancient tree that is the republic can now see the effect of the young branches in countries around the world, he said.

Afeyan, the founder, CEO and managing partner of Flagship Ventures, as well as a senior lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, enough to warrant the presence of the top leadership of the republic. The ancient tree that is the republic can now see the effect of the young branches in countries around the world, he said.

Afeyan, the founder, CEO and managing partner of Flagship Ventures, as well as a senior lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, and who really come into their own in times of crisis. Referring to the paramount place of Ararat in the hearts of many Armenians, he said the story of Noah’s Ark is more than one about pairs of animals on a ship; that it is about tenacity and survival. “We’re damn good survivors,” he said.

He said, in fact, he was so delighted with the Armenian Heritage Park in Boston that he
thinks the 10 million or so people that are fully or part Armenian around the world should
come together and help build a similar heritage park in Armenia, tying it to communities of Armenians worldwide.

Among the dignitaries representing Armenia were Nalbandian, Ambassador to the US Tatoul Markarian and Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan. The latter offered words on behalf of the president. She praised the local Armenian community, saying “for us, the community of Boston is one of the most organized in the US. We are proud that in the heart of Boston, there will be an Armenian Heritage Park.”

She spoke about the advances in Armenia, thanking the Armenian Diaspora for its consistent support. ‘The roots are in Armenia and the branches spreading over the world are bearing fruit,” she said.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), offered the invocation. He said he was proud to see a show of support from Armenia, as “for Armenians around the world, a free and independent homeland is a dream come true.” He likened the nation to a phoenix that has risen out of the ashes of death and destruction.

In a tremendous mood of unity, Barsamian said that as Armenians we should be as one.
“This achievement [the park] belongs to all of us,” just like the Holy Sees of Echmiadzin and Antelias, to the applause of the audience.

“Our spiritual and national heritage belong to all of us,” he said. “Our divisions are far less
important that the qualities that unite us. We should embrace the great maturity and
advances in the course of the Armenian nation.”

Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, the Prelate of the Prelacy of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) gave the benediction. “In this setting, my heart is filled with pride,” he said. “Our heritage is wealth that belongs to all our people.”

He praised all the groups in the community that help foster pride in Armenian identity and
keep the young people tethered to the community, be they schools, churches, social or sports organizations.

“We are showing our heritage to Boston. It was built with the sweat of our people. I am
proud that we are Armenian Americans and we gave back what they gave us,” he said. Echoing

Barsamian’s comments about Armenia, he said, “We grew up without seeing our land. We
receive and give our present. It is our wish that Armenian grows stronger and stronger.”
The evening was sponsored by Nishan Atinizian and family, Carolyn Mugar, Noubar and Anna Afeyan and Kalustian.

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