Artsakh US Rep. Robert Avetisyan (Ken Martin photo)

Boston Weekend Events Commemorate Genocide

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BOSTON — This year the commemoration of the 108 Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide took place over the weekend in a series of planned events between April 21 -23. The return to the Massachusetts State House in the post-pandemic took place on Friday, April 21, in the morning in the Legislative Chamber, while the annual Armenian Heritage Park gathering, scheduled this year on Sunday, April 23, the was moved to the Armenian Cultural and Educational Center in Watertown, due to inclement weather.

Edward Avedisian’s widow, Pamela Wood Avedisian, accepts a proclamation from state Sen. Will Brownsberger. (Ken Martin photo)

Both events were well attended by residents from throughout Massachusetts and the region. Exceptionally good event planning and timing by the Boston Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee led to successful outcomes for all. For many attendees there were some surprises with outstanding musicians, intellectuals and sparkling personalities who performed in a heartfelt way during these difficult times for Armenians worldwide.

The very real possibility of genocide continuation looms in the Artsakh Republic and even Armenia proper by the dictatorship in Azerbaijan and its supporting powers.

State Rep. David Muradian Jr., left, with Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian (Ken Martin photo)

The State House event was opened and led by Rep. David Muradian, Jr., with musical performances by the Children of St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School of Watertown, and a musical interlude by violinist Haig Hovsepian and pianist Ani Hovsepian of Belmont. Recognition of guests was made by Sen. Will Brownsberger and the presentation of the Governor Healy’s Proclamation by Rep. Dave Rogers.

Remarks by Sheriff Peter Koutoujian were followed by the presentation of a senate resolution to Pamela Avedisian, wife of recently deceased Edward Avedisian a generous philanthropist and member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, by state Sen. Will Brownsberger. Several scholarships established in honor of late House Speaker Keverian were presented  followed by and introduction by Rep. Dave Rogers of the keynote speaker and Permanent Representative of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to the United States, Robert Avetisyan.

Ambassador Edward Djerejian at the State House (Ken Martin photo)

Remarks by Avak Sbarabed of the Knights of Vartan, Hunan Arshakian of California and ending remarks by Muradian concluded the formal event and closing prayers by the gathered clergy and the procession from the House Chamber took place.

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All guests were invited to the Hall of Flags for Armenian refreshments prepared the anoush’ella restaurant of Boston.

The decision to move the April 23 events  indoors to the ACEC in Watertown proved a good one as more than 2 inches of rain fell in some locations. Watertown Representative Steve Owens and Governor’s Councilor Marilyn Devaney were in attendance.

Kristina Ayanyan with Rev. Arakel Aljalian (Ken Martin photo)

Many in the large audience were surprised to discover that the Master of Ceremonies was Miss Universe Armenia, Kristina Ayanian. She introduced the clergy and Homenetmen Scouts honor guard with flags as young vocalist Victoria Stepanyan sang the Star Spangled Banner and Mer Hairenik to a standing audience.

Kristina Ayanian spoke with positive energy about approaches to life especially to youth and in uncertain times. She introduced vocalist Teni Apelian of the group Zulal who was accompanied by oudist Datev Gevorkian, playing his magical strings.

Prof. Christina Maranci (Ken Martin Photo)

The keynote speaker for the afternoon was Prof. Christina Maranci, researcher, writer, translator, historian, and professor and currently serving as the Mashtots Chair in Armenian Studies at Harvard University. Maranci spoke about her own family history as Armenian Genocide survivors and the expressions of trauma they experienced. She mentioned how everyone even children and grandchildren of trauma victims can be affected too, and that the recent incidents of war and intimidation by Azerbaijan and Turkey was affecting Armenians today. She used history to talk about past dark times and the needs for hope in the distant past. Many Khatchkar stone cross monuments and other stones carried inscriptions written by the deceased during the Medieval period of history in  hopes that someone in the future would read them and remember the person. That time passed and people can read the stones and they give evidence that Armenians have been around for a long time and will continue to do so despite dictators and others try to bring Genocide on Armenians today.

Current and former students from St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School (Ken Martin photo)

A final musical interlude by the two led to closing remarks. As the gathered friends and neighbors stayed for a while to talk about the evening and socialize a bit, Miss Universe Armenia, Kristina Ayanian, posed for photographs with fans.

Little scouts (Ken Martin photo)

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