ALTADENA, CA – The Tekeyan Cultural Association Metro Los Angeles Chapter will host a program titled “Captain Jim Chankalian: Leader of the Armenian-American Volunteer Soldiers” on Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 5 p.m. at the Tekeyan Center in Altadena. Boston-based scholar Aram Arkun, Executive Director of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada and Assistant Editor of the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, will serve as the keynote speaker and present the fascinating life of Captain Jim Chankalian, who was a part of the Armenian Legion that successfully defeated the Turkish and German forces at the Battle of Arara in Palestine in September 1918 as well as a volunteer fighter under the Russians in Van during World War I.
This bilingual program will be dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the heroic victory that was achieved by the 4,000 members of the Armenian Legion (including 1,200 valiant American-Armenian soldiers led by Captain Jim Chankalian). Born in Dikranagerd in 1879, Chankalian, along with three other Armenians from Paterson, New Jersey, served in the United States Army during the Spanish-American War. Almost twenty years later, under Chankalian’s leadership, New Jersey became the initial military training ground for the Armenian Legion in the United States, before they headed overseas. Captain Jim Chankalian is recognized as one of the most prominent leaders of the Armenian Democratic Liberal party (A.D.L.) as well as the first president of the Central Committee of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) in the United States. He also served the Armenian Church in numerous leadership positions, among them as a member of the original committee which led to the building of the Diocesan Center and St. Vartan Cathedral in New York City. He died in New Jersey in 1947.
Keynote speaker Arkun, a respected scholar, is a graduate of Princeton University with a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania and a C. Phil. degree in Armenian history from the University of California Los Angeles. He has been editor-in-chief of the AGBU Ararat quarterly, director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) and adjunct assistant professor at New York University, among other posts. He has written a number of articles on Cilician Armenians in the modern period.
Also participating in the program is Dr. Zaven Arslanian, the maternal grandson of Sergeant Caspar Menag of Chunkoosh and Lawrence, Massachusetts of the Armenian Legion. Sergeant Caspar Menag, who fought at the Battle of Arara and in Cilicia, considered Captain Jim Chankalian to be one of the great influences on his life.
The dancers of the Patille Dance Studio of Pasadena, under the direction of Patille and Cynthia Albarian, will perform a number of dances in honor of the Armenian Legion.
Captain Jim Chankalian made many personal sacrifices to serve the Armenian people, by means of the Armenian Legion, A.D.L., Armenian Church, AGBU, as well as the United States Army, with great distinction and honor, becoming a great patriot and national hero.