ALTADENA, Calif. — The Tekeyan Cultural Association Metro Los Angeles Chapter hosted a bilingual program titled “Roupen Herian: Rescuer of Armenian Orphans,” on February 17 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, served as the keynote speaker and presented the fascinating life of Herian, who dedicated himself to the herculean task of locating kidnapped Armenian women and children during and immediately after the Armenian Genocide.
The master of ceremonies, Carl Bardakian, chairman of the TCA Metro LA chapter, offered brief welcoming remarks. He introduced Kana Hovhannisyan, second secretary of the Republic of Armenia’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, who spoke poignantly about Herian and the importance of his great sacrifices.
Bardakian then introduced Arkun, who presented a detailed overview of the incredible life Herian lived. In particular, he noted that Herian was not driven by narrow political ideology. He started out as a member of the Hnchag Party, became a Reformed Hnchag, and then a member of the Armenian Democratic Party, the predecessor of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party. Though a dedicated member of his party, he worked with many other organizations for the betterment of the Armenian people and nation.
Arkun noted that Herian was born in Tokat sometime between 1868 and 1872, and later worked in Constantinople, before immigrating to Boston and afterwards moving to New York City. He became a successful businessman in the tobacco industry, while continuing to be deeply involved in Armenian political activities.
In 1916 he carried out a secret war mission for the British government.
Herian helped arrange the transportation of many of the 1,200 Armenian-Americans who joined the Armenian Legion, which successfully defeated the Turkish and German forces at the Battle of Arara in Palestine in September 1918, and himself later enrolled as a legionnaire though he was older than most of the other volunteers. In fact, he was often called the “grey-haired youth” due to his enthusiasm and energy.