BAYSIDE, N.Y. — Sunday, September 30, was an amazing and historic day – not just for the Armenians of Holy Martyrs, but for all Armenians. The dream to have a street co-named for Armenians in Bayside became a reality.
The day began with an Episcopal Badarak, celebrated by Abp. Khajag Barsamian (former Primate of the Armenian Diocese of America, Eastern), representing Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan. Following the Badarak, the choir members, deacons and parishioners filled the church plaza to capacity (and overflowed into the street) while the children of the three schools — Holy Martyrs Armenian Day School, Holy Martyrs Armenian Language School and Sunday School — assembled on the church steps. With much excitement, the children sang Hayr Mer, and the American and Armenian national anthems, waving flags and beaming with excitement.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik, who was instrumental in getting the approval for “Armenia Way,” served as master of ceremonies for the day. The celebratory program began with congratulatory remarks by Barsamian and Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan of Holy Martyrs Armenian Church, who were both visibly excited and moved by the sheer number of people who had turned out for the occasion. Barsamian declared the day a “blessed” one, marking the journey of Armenians to the shores of the United States and making use of the opportunities in their new homeland to become good citizens.
Armenian-Americans settled in Queens more than 60 years ago. Armenians love Queens and Queens has now given back to the Armenian community with a permanent sign. Malkhasyan, who was beaming, boldly told the hundreds in attendance that “this street sign, however, will have no importance if we do not fill our church with active members.” The cheers that erupted was a great indicator of the energy present in the Holy Martyrs community.
Local politicians who also spoke words of congratulations during the ceremony included US Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) who complimented the church for maintaining a “stellar” relationship with the community, adding that she is a proud member of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Flushing).
Following the speeches, Councilman Barry Grodenchik stood in front of the church doors and unveiled a duplicate “Armenia Way” sign to loud cheers. He then gifted the sign to Malkhasyan, who, with much pride and joy, lifted the sign up for all to see. The crowd of excited parishioners and friends then walked around the church complex to the corner of 210th Street and Horace Harding Expressway for the official unveiling. With cameras and video rolling, Grodenchik, Barsamian and Malkhasyan pulled on the rope together and the beautiful “Armenia Way” sign was unveiled.