Members and Supporters Rally in Support  at ARF 133rd Anniversary Event

Members and Supporters Rally in Support at ARF 133rd Anniversary Event

On the evening of Saturday, June 22, over 400 members of the local Armenian-American community came together at the Avedisian Hall at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian School in Encino. The gathering was a testament to their unwavering loyalty and support for the 133-year-strong worldwide Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s regional structure, the ARF Western United States of America Central Committee and Region. This annual celebration marked another significant milestone for the ARF, highlighting the community’s commitment to sustaining the organization’s mission and values.

The banquet, organized under the auspices of the ARF Western U.S.A. Central Committee, was the main event in the organization’s annual calendar. In honor of the organization’s 133rd anniversary, numerous benefactors stepped forward to support the cause. Major donations included a generous $25,000 contribution from Sarkis Balkhian in memory of his father, Mihran Balkhian, and a $10,000 donation from longtime supporters Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Evelina Sarian. These substantial contributions, among many others, helped raise over $100,000 for the ARF’s ongoing activities and initiatives.

The evening’s entertainment was a highlight, beginning with an energetic performance by the M Revolution Band, who set a lively tone for the event. The feature performance was delivered by the world-renowned artist Karnig Sarkissian and his live band. Sarkissian, a revered figure in Armenian music, captivated the audience with a wide collection of national-revolutionary songs. His powerful performance was not only a tribute to the rich cultural heritage of Armenia but also a reaffirmation of the community’s enduring spirit and solidarity.

Opening remarks were made by Vartkes Akmakian, who set a reflective and inspiring tone for the evening. His words underscored the importance of the ARF’s mission and the community’s role in supporting it. The Master of Ceremonies for the night was former ARF WUSA Central Committee member Stepan Boyajian. His experienced and skillful guidance ensured that the event flowed smoothly, keeping the audience engaged and entertained.

Keynote remarks were delivered by ARF WUSA Representative Avo Kechichian, whose speech was a poignant reminder of the ARF’s pivotal role in both the homeland and the Diaspora. Kechichian highlighted the deep-rooted connection to Armenia and the ARF Armenia body, emphasizing the organization’s enduring influence and importance. He also reiterated the ARF WUSA’s solidarity with the ongoing Tavush for the Homeland movement in Armenia, led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanian. This movement began as a protest against Armenia’s Prime Minister unilaterally handing over four villages in Tavush to Azerbaijan and has since grown to demand Prime Minister Pashinyan’s resignation. The cause resonated deeply with the attendees, many of whom have personal ties to Armenia and are concerned about its future.

The banquet continued well into the early hours of Sunday morning, with nearly all the guests remaining until the very end. The atmosphere was one of camaraderie and unity, reflecting the strong bonds that tie the community together. The celebration concluded at 2 a.m. with the traditional singing of “Aryunod Drosh,” a stirring finale that left attendees filled with pride and a renewed sense of purpose.

This year’s ARF celebration was a resounding success, showcasing the community’s dedication to preserving their heritage and supporting their compatriots both locally and in Armenia. The funds raised will go a long way in supporting the ARF’s various programs and initiatives, ensuring that the organization continues to thrive and make a positive impact.