WASHINGTON — This summer, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan gathered here for the 2015 National Grand Convocation. The commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, celebration of the victory of sanctification of our martyrs by the Armenian Mother Church, and a call to service leadership to our community, were the major themes throughout the convocation. The five-day event was held at the prestigious Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. Over 200 Armenian Americans representing 20 lodges and 17 chapters from across the United States convened for a series of business meetings, workshops, and various activities including tours of the monuments and visits with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
“It has been 40 years since the Grand Convocation was held in Washington DC. This event revitalizes our spirits in a year that stands out as landmark year for all Armenians. The issues facing the Republic of Armenia and our diaspora have changed since the 20th century. This convocation is our most important step for keeping pace with these changes,” stated 2015 Grand Convocation Chairman Jake Bournazian.
The convocation began on Wednesday, July 15, where a group of Knights and Daughters visited Members of Congress to discuss issues of concern to the Armenian American community. Later, members took an afternoon tour of Washington, DC and visited various sights such as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, White House, and Capitol Hill. Later that evening, guests convened for a casual welcome reception hosted by Grand Commander Steven Kradjian and Grand Matron Lisa Kradjian, thus kick-starting the convocation.
On Thursday, the Knights and Daughters held an all-day program of workshops dedicated to strengthening the Armenian Diaspora, our homeland, and the organization. In keeping with this year’s Grand Convocation theme, a series of visual panels from various collections of the Armenian National Institute’s Armenian Genocide exhibits were on display at every event.
In the evening, members convened for a private dinner with keynote remarks delivered by Armenian Caucus founder and co-chair Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ). Pallone shared his experiences in fighting for Armenian Genocide recognition and his numerous trips to Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. Congressman Pallone thanked the Knights and Daughters for their service to the Armenian American community and dedication to the homeland. Following dinner, members danced the night away to American swing and pop music with a live performance by the Terry Lee Ryan Band.
On Friday, July 16, the Knights and Daughters held their annual convocation business meetings for 2015-2016. On Friday night, hundreds of Knights and Daughters gathered for a formal dinner and an evening of Armenian dancing. Taniel Koushakjian delivered remarks and reflections on the Armenian Genocide centennial, the activities of Armenians around the world, and the emotions that Armenians have carried for the last one hundred years. Koushakjian recognized those Knights and Daughters that played significant roles in organizing local centennial commemorations, as well as guests in attendance, including Nagorno Karabagh Representative to the United States Robert Avetisyan, Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, and Armenian National Committee Executive Director Aram Hamparian.