PROVIDENCE, R.I. — For the first time in five-years, the Rhode Island Armenian community met at North Burial Ground, Providence, to commemorate the Armenian Genocide, and to venerate those victims who are now canonized as Holy Martyrs. The Armenian Martyrs’ Memorial Committee of Rhode Island hosted this year’s event, which featured two emcees, Melanie Zeitounian and Steven Zaroogian.
A procession commenced with flag bearers, clergy, invited guests and wreath presenters surrounded by able-bodied honor guards as beautiful hymns were sung by choir members of the three local Armenian churches under the capable direction of Alysha Melkoun.
Officiating clergy Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian, Rev. Fr. Shnork Souin, and Rev. Dr. Ara Heghinian conducted a service for the Holy Martyrs with the able assistance of deacons and service participants from Armenian Evangelical Church, Saints Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church and Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church. It began with “The Lord’s Prayer” (“Hayr Mer”) being recited by the clergy and all those present; readings from St Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews and the Holy Gospel according to St. Paul; the Litany of The Saints and concluding with the singing of “The Lord’s Prayer” by the choir and congregation. In addition, soloist Joanne Mouradjian sang a beautiful rendition of “Hrashatsan Bagootsmamp” to the Holy Martyrs.
It was 45 years ago when the majestic monument standing 29-feet-tall was dedicated in 1977 to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Zeitounian stated, “Let’s always wear our “Forget-Me-Not” flower to honor the memory of those who perished beginning in 1915.”
The guest speaker was Stepan Piligian. Piligian is a native of Massachusetts and has spent many years as a volunteer teacher of Armenian history and contemporary issues to the young generation and adults at schools, camps, and churches on the East Coast. He gave a riveting speech to an audience of approximately 200 – 250 individuals about martyrdom and the sacrifice made by those who were massacred by the Turkish Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915 and most recently their canonization through which they have transcended from victim to victor. He discussed the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by President Biden and Congress but suggested the work of Armenians is only beginning. Recognition of Genocide is something Armenians have been aware of for 107 years but he stressed that an unpunished crime by the Turks does not serve justice. (To hear his speech, go to “Video” at www.ammri.org .)
Following the guest speaker were the Armenian School children of Saints Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church and Sts. Vartanantz Armenian Church where they sung Hyortik under the direction of Raffi Rachdouni.