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Knights and Daughters of Vartan Visit Motherland on Mission Trip

LATEST NEWS

11/09/2017

Knights of Vartan Grand Commander Dr. Gary Zamanigian Visits Washington, D.C. The newly elected Grand Commander of Knights of Vartan, Dr. Gary Zamanigian gave an official visit to the Ani Lodge and Dickranouhi Otyag of Washington, D.C. on October 10-12.

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Recognizing what working together can accomplish…

On Thursday, October 26, 2017, the Alex & Marie Manoogian Museum located in the St. John Armenian Church campus hosted a Gala dinner to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Museum and to celebrate the 2016 landmark decision by the State of Michigan to teach the Holocaust and Armenian Genocide in public schools. 

Guests of honor were James & Ana Melikian of Scottsdale AZ, noted patrons of the arts, who were present to share their special exhibit “Celebrating & Preserving our Cultures” featuring selected Armenian and Jewish artifacts at the Museum.  The exhibit will remain until January 15, 2018.  This grand celebration and phenomenal dinner was hosted by The Alex & Marie Manoogian Museum and Richard Manoogian, Chairman of the Board of the Armenian Apostolic Society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guests included members from the American Armenian and Jewish communities as well as local dignitaries.  The Knights of Vartan was well represented with Grand Commander Dr. Gary Zamanigian, Grand Secretary Richard Norsigian and Grand Treasurer Edward Bedikian in attendance.  Nareg-Shavarshan Lodge members present were  (P.C.) Paul Kulhanjian and (P.C.) David Terzibashian.  Michigan State Representative Klint Kesto (R) was an honored guest as well as Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D).  Representative Kesto was the sponsor of Michigan HB4493, passed and signed by Governor Rick Snyder in 2016, mandating that the Michigan high schools include in their curriculum (6-8) teach of the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust.

This bill, a victory for all Armenians, came to fruition through the perseverance of local activists that joined forces to present a united effort toward this goal.  Members from the local chapter ANC (Armenian National Committee) along with members from local Armenian organizations including the Knights of Vartan, Armenian Assembly of America, the Armenian Research Center at U of M Dearborn, Tekeyan Cultural Association, the ADL and local Armenian Churches, joined together in 2015 to form the AGEC (Armenian Genocide Education Committee) to pursue this legislation.  The project began when Asbed and past P.C. David Terzibashian noticed an article in a local newspaper revealing that State Representative Klint Kesto was working with a group to mandate the teaching of the Holocaust into Michigan high school curriculums.  Requesting a meeting with Representative Kesto, Asbeds (P.C.) Edward Bedikian, (P.C.) Paul Kulhanjian and (P.C.) David Terzibashian discovered that the Jewish metro Detroit community had a bill ready for submission.  In conversation with Representative Kesto they also discovered that he had been speaking with Lara Nercessian, an ANC representative, regarding the possibility of adding specifically the Armenian Genocide to the legislation. The Asbeds then contacted Lara Nercessian to make this a united American Armenian effort, thus the Armenian Genocide Education Committee (AGEC) was born and the task was begun.  After much discussion the Jewish contingent agreed to add to their Bill “the Armenian Genocide”, encouraged by the fact that in 2002, then Governor John Engler signed into law, Michigan Public Act 558 designating that April 24 of each year shall be the Michigan Day of Remembrance of the Armenian genocide of 1915-1923, and that the period beginning on the Sunday before that day through the following Sunday shall be the Days of Remembrance, in memory of the victims of the genocide, and in honor of the survivors.  The rest is now history!

Asbed Paul Kulhanjian recognized that State Representative Klint Kesto was unattended and standing alone, he quickly made an effort to contact Grand Commander Zamanigian and he introduced him to Representative Kesto.  He thanked him for his efforts on behalf of the American American community.  Seizing the opportunity at having both the Armenian and Jewish communities together at this event, Grand Commander Zamanigian asked the organizers if Representative Kesto could be recognized for his efforts on behalf of both communities and they responded positively. Rep. Kesto was asked to say a few words on the importance of the legislation and a grateful audience responded with appreciative applause.

It was a great night to recognize and pay homage to The Alex & Marie Manoogian Museum, the jewel of our community, and to appreciate what working together can accomplish.  It was a night also to realize that one person CAN make a difference.

HB4493 is proof that a project may start with one person which can evolve to a committee of five persons which then becomes a movement in the community.

Every Armenian that can should get involved in the American political process – something so important to all.  The Knights in particular bear an onus to take advantage of this great liberty to be involved in an unbiased manner to garner and share information that affect our everyday lives, our ancestral homeland, and our culture.

All of our lodges should designate an Asbed brother to take responsibility to make with their local representatives, their state officials and their congressional representatives, both house and senate.  This should be their “raison d’etre.”  Knowing their representatives is the best way to garner support for issues that affect American Armenians.