By Aram Arkun
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Massachusetts Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee, which includes representatives of most Armenian organizations in the state, held its penultimate meeting on March 30 at Holy Trinity Armenian Church to discuss the commemorative events for April 23 and 24.
Committee Co-chair Anthony Barsamian and several other organizers provided updated information on the schedule of events and confirmed participants. On Thursday, April 23, an interfaith memorial prayer service commencing at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Church at Copley Square in Boston will include Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Metropolitan Methodius, Rev. Laura Everett (head of the Massachusetts Council of Churches), Rabbi Ronne Freedman, a representative of the Islamic Council, fifteen Armenian clergymen, and Episcopal Bishop Gayle Harris presiding. This service is presented in conjunction with the Massachusetts Council of Churches. All the diplomatic consuls in the Boston area have been invited. Extensive media coverage is expected.
On April 24, the morning begins with a joint divine liturgy by all New England Armenian Churches held at Holy Trinity Armenian Church of Cambridge from 10 a.m. to noon. Madagh will be prepared. Free buses will take people from Holy Trinity or Watertown to Boston. Then outside the State House in Boston, Governor Charles Baker and constitutional officers will present a 30-minute program. The master of ceremonies will be state Rep. Jonathan Hecht. A procession then will ensue to the Armenian Genocide Memorial at Heritage Park with a brief stop at the New England Holocaust Memorial en route. A group of Jewish leaders will then join the Armenians. Greeks will also join the march. Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston will meet the procession at City Hall.
At Armenian Heritage Park, a program at 2:45 p.m. packed with notables and politicians will include Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, Mayor Walsh, former governor Deval Patrick, and the Massachusetts Congressional delegation. James Kalustian will be master of ceremonies. There will be seating for 400 people, with professional lighting and sound. The afternoon program will finish sometime between 4 and 4:15 p.m.
Finally, a youth vigil will take place in the park from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The evening’s programming will include multimedia presentations with video, the introduction of various projects, and brief speakers. There will be some interactive moments, and some surprises are planned.
Zareh Zurabyan, a young Boston entrepreneur and Armenian community activist, is co-program director of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of Boston. He spoke further after the formal meeting about the vigil activities, which are divided into three sections. He said, “The first is about the dark past, and gives an educational introduction to the Armenian Genocide. Next comes a bridge section, which includes a prayer for the victims of the Genocide and other injustices of the world. The third part leads us into the present and future, which is bright and full of hope. It shows what Armenians have accomplished in the Boston area and globally.”
Zurabyan explained that the conclusion encourages Armenians to unite, with Armenia being the most important common denominator today. He said, “Armenians can use what our ancestors have set up here as a foundation as tools for being successful and useful not only for Boston and the US, but the world. We can help others overcome adversities just as we have.”
State Rep. David K. Muradian, who has helped in the organization of the commemoration and will give the closing remarks at the State House, was present at the meeting. He commented afterwards: “I am truly honored to be part of this historic commemoration. My district of Grafton, Northbridge and Upton has a large Armenian population and I am moved to be asked to speak about this terrible tragedy. To be able to host the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at the Massachusetts State House, a building cloaked in rich Massachusetts history, only further magnifies the importance of this occasion during a day of remembrance.”
Committee co-chair Anthony J. Barsamian made the following final statement: “It is an honor to work with over 40 Armenian organizations planning the 100th Commemoration of the Genocide. Together with Jim Kalustian and Ara Nazarian, we have worked for nearly two years and together with all our partners, professionals and broad range of organizations we are unified in message and purpose. On April 23rd and April 24th, we will pray together in one church as one people and then bring the largest turnout of Armenian-Americans in Massachusetts to Boston.”
By Aram Arkun