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LATEST NEWS

05/27/2020

The Knights of Vartan Vahan Lodge #44, Orange County California, recently completed a fundraising activity specifically for the purpose of making a contribution to the mission of the Fuller Center for Housing in Armenia. The fundraising activity, a raffle with cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places, culminated in a raffle drawing held on May 3, in the presence of a large majority of the Vahan Lodge Tivan members, including Commander Anton Markarian; of course, all were fully compliant with social distancing criteria and personal health safety guidelines!

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Times Square–New York City- Commemoration of Armenian Genocide

Established 1985

In 1984, Sbarabed Raffie Mgerdichian, of Mamigonian Tahlij #12, and his Tivan members initiated the idea of holding the usual April 24th Armenian Genocide Commemoration at a notable location in order to foster a greater public awareness of the Armenian cause throughout America via the media.  Asbed Samuel Azadian, a Deputy of the New York City Transportation Department, suggested that the event be held at the “crossroads of the world:” Times Square, New York City.  Sbarabed Mgerdichian presented the proposal to the Mid-Atlantic Interlodge Tivan, for its approval in making it a joint-endeavor of the District’s five Tahlijes: Haigazian #3, Mamigonian #12, Vasbouragan #30, Etchmiadzin #20, and Bakradouny #38. Subsequently, Avak Sbarabed Kachadoor “Crosby” Kazarian approved implementation of the proposal, initiating that singular event which has made a great impact on genocide awareness over the last 31 years. Every Avak Sbarabed since 1985 has supported and participated in the Times Square event.

Each year, the commemoration event is elevated to another level and, concurrently, the need for additional funding and greater commitment and participation also increase. Because of the positive publicity emanating from this event and flowing through the Armenian community at large, many non-members of our organization have become committed participants, working with the Knights and Daughters to ensure the event’s continued success.

Added to this is our collective, ongoing collaboration with various religious and secular organizations, presenting a solid, unified front. All church denominations, political parties, and major Armenian Organizations have come to support the project as co-sponsors. Uniting the entire Armenian community as one has provided a solidarity that will not soon be broken.  

Our participating organizations include: the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America; Prelacy of the Armenian Church of America; the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA); the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (AEUNA); and the Armenian Catholic Eparchy for the U.S. and Canada. Our co-sponsoring organizations are: the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU); the Armenian Assembly of America (AAA); the Armenian Council of America (ACA-Hunchag); the Armenian Democratic League (ADL-Ramgavar); the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA); the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA); the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF-YOARF); and the University Armenian clubs.

Today this internationally recognized, annual event draws thousands of Armenian and non-Armenian participants alike, to commemorate the solemn occasion.

The Times Square event has featured speeches and tributes delivered, not only by prominent political figures (U.S. Senators, Congresspersons, Governors, New York City Mayors, New Jersey and Connecticut State elected officials), but by scholars, academics, and community leaders as well. Additionally, major Armenian-American organizations, high ranking Armenian Clergy from all denominations, youth and cultural groups, survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and the Knights and Daughters of Vartan leadership have all participated fully. In spearheading this yearly event, our organization has earned the respect and admiration, not only of the Armenian Community, but of high ranking, nationally elected officials as well as the New York City Police Department. 

The Knights of Vartan is the only organization that has ever been permitted to hold a Times Square commemoration, with closure of Broadway between 43rd Street and 7th Avenue for a seven-hour period, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Additionally, during the entire week preceding the Commemorative Event, the illuminated message panel that fronts on Times Square, calls on people to remember the Genocide and its one-and-a-half-million Armenian victims.

In 2015, two significant Armenian milestones were reached: the first was the Knights and Daughters celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Times Square event; the other was the Centennial Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. This memorable event at the “crossroads of the world” drew over 15,000 people with all major organizations in our community represented. It was a grand undertaking, culminating in a 10-float parade and with an all-time record of youth participation. This was a great moment in our history — true Asbedoutiun in action.   Subsequently, in 2016, a keepsake Commemorative Booklet, “KDV — 100 Years — We Remember and Demand — 1915-2015 — Truth, Recognition, and Justice,” offering the background and history of the Times Square event, was published under the editorship of NS Hirant Gulian.

The success of the Times Square commemorations, over the past three decades, should be a source of pride for each and every Asbed and Sister. The positive fallout from these efforts will encourage others, especially our young people, to get involved, joining us in serving the Armenian cause. Thus, our existence and the perpetuity of this worthy, annual, commemorative event will both be assured.