BOSTON — While the concept of genocide is being constantly debated in international news due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, the Boston community commemorated the 107th anniversary of the commencement of the Armenian Genocide on April 23 in Armenian Heritage Park. Covid-19 restrictions prevented the use of the customary setting of the Massachusetts Statehouse, now closed to all public events.
Notwithstanding the issues connected to the pandemic, Armenians and their friends filled the circular maze construction of Armenian Heritage Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway and surrounded the Armenian Genocide memorial sculpture there early in the evening. The ceremonies were opened by State Representatives David K. Muradian, Jr. and Kate Lipper-Garabedian. An honor guard of the Homenetmen Armenian Scouts carrying the flags of the United States, the state of Massachusetts, the Republic of Armenia, and the Artsakh Republic marched to the stage. Stirring renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner and Mer Hairenik [Our Fatherland], the respective American and Armenian national anthems, were performed by vocalist Sevan Dulgarian. The Armenian clergy of Greater Boston said prayers and blessed the event and memory of the lost ancestors of the majority of the audience, all having been granted sainthood by the Armenian Church during the 2015 centenary of the Armenian Genocide.
Among the prominent guests in the audience were Ambassador Meron Reuben, the Consul General of Israel to New England, Massachusetts State Rep. Steven C. Owens of Watertown, and entrepreneur and philanthropist Noubar Afeyan.
Justin Bilton, an English teacher who created a successful Genocide Studies course at Essex North Shore and Technical High School, reported about the need for education on all cases of genocide. He spoke about how his students have reacted in positive ways to learning about genocides even though many are focused on agricultural and technical learning.
Sam Sjostedt was introduced by Lipper-Garabedian for a musical interlude with the duduk. It held the audience spellbound with its subdued power and seemed to reduce the constant grinding sound of vehicular traffic nearby to a background murmur.
Lipper-Garabedian and Muradian presented and read Governor Charles Baker’s proclamation on the occasion of the 107th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide followed by keynote speaker Dr. Henry Theriault, chair of the Philosophy Department at Worcester State University and coordinator of the university’s Center for the Study of Human Rights.