On the evening of March 13, a book presentation and signing ceremony was held at the Crescenta Valley Meher & Satig Der Ohanessian Youth Center for the book “Yergiruh Ardergren” (The Country from Abroad), written by intellectual and long time national servant Vatche Proudian. The event was held at the initiative of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western United States of America Central Committee and hosted by the ARF La Crescenta “Zavarian” Gomideh.
The event started with a reception, during which attendees were entertained with wine and hors d’oeuvres. The official program started at 8:30pm when member of the ARF W.U.S.A. Central Committee and the master of ceremonies for the evening, Hovig Saliba opened the program and expressed that it was an honor for him to be the master of ceremonies at this unique event, because Proudian is an exemplary person due to his years of dedication, honesty and modesty. He explained that this is also a special evening in the sense that Proudian will be moving to Armenia in two days with the intention of permanently settling there. Saliba remarked that he wished many of us could follow Comrade Vatche’s example.
Saliba also expressed his conviction that because of his modest character, Vatche Proudian should listen patiently to the words of praise about him tonight, but he should also keep in mind that this is also an opportunity to talk and appreciate the intellectuals and their role in these difficult days of our homeland. He also welcomed the presence of Spartak Gharabaghtsyan and Haroutioun Haroutiounian, fellow members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation of Armenia. (See the full speech in the video below)
Then, Narineh Hambarsoumian, a fellow member of the ARF North Hollywood “Papken Seuni” Chapter, of which Proudian has been a longtime member, presented Vatche Proudian’s biography. Addressing Proudian, Hambarsoomian, said “ultimately, you are the modest type, we always have something to learn from your modesty and your knowledge.”
In the next section of the program, Zareh Adjemian, a member of the ARF Western U.S.A. Central Committee and the editor of the official newspaper of the ARF in the region, “Oragark”, presented the book “The Country from Abroad” and the author.
Adjemian first began to present information about the book and then stopped at the “prism” from which the author viewed the motherland and concluded that “the feeling of heavenly love and holiness towards the motherland, and the feeling of rebirth is present in all its depth in the works of Vatche Proudian. The author himself often presents himself as a person far from artistic literature and only a person of ideological and political pen, but he cannot restrain his poetic thinking every time he is confronted with Massis, Artsakh, native nature and people, and even animals.”
After quoting several passages quotes, Adjemian concluded from the book, “the author speaks about his homeland with unparalleled love and dreams, but his filial love for all of them does not blind him so that he does not see the shortcomings of his country, state or people, or become a realistic and ruthless critic of their mistakes. Here is the example of a responsible ideological and principled figure of the ARF, who mixes the love of the country on the one hand and the responsibility of striving for the good and virtuous on the other.”
“Vatche Proudian represents the ideological generation of the ARF that kept our national values high and intact, including the Motherland, the Country, the Armenian people and its statehood, the Armenian Church and why not the Armenian Revolutionary Federation itself, but at the same time when they noticed an omission, weakness or weak point, they expressed, spoke out from the position of a ruthless claimant, but remaining decent and faithful to those essential principles.”
Then, Adjemian addressed the audience with the following question: “Can Vatche Proudian be recognized only by the 95 articles of his collection “The Country from Abroad? The initial answer to this question should be no, because the volume is only a small part of the publications belonging to his pen. The pages of the Armenian press have showcased his numerous works for nearly 50 years. How can one define Vatche Proudian, the person or the Editor from the interlude of this small volume? However, it is enough to read the volume to understand that in addition to political analyses and ideological debates, Vatche Proudian is a high-quality historian who can make you a fellow traveler and without boredom drag you from the American youth camp to the dreamy, but always real Aleppo.”
Citing various examples, Adjemian outlined the various manifestations of the author from the book and returning to his previous question whether it is possible to recognize Vatche Proudian from his book, he concluded: “Now I think yes to this question. It is true that many of us were lucky enough to converse with Vatche Proudian, sit at the table, break bread, participate in meetings, perhaps argue, listen to his wonderful stories and get to know Vatche Proudian the Man, the Editor, the Orator, the party-ideological figure and the most precious of our comrades. But for those of us who were not lucky enough to be in close contact or some of us who want to recall the inspiring writings of their friend from time to time, the volume “The Country from Abroad” is a close translation of our old friend Vatche Proudian.
The presentation of the book was followed by a ginedzon (wine anointment ceremony), for which the oldest and the youngest attendees in the hall were invited to the stage to participate, distinguished comrade Baruyr Hagopian and Vahe Hambardzumian. After anointing the book with wine, Krikor Dunkian’s heartfelt words, addressed to Vatche Proudian conveyed by a letter received from Canada, were read. Then there was a question-and-answer session and spontaneous expressions by the attendees. On behalf of the AYF Western U.S.A. Executive Board. Tenny Alaverdian spoke words of appreciation from the youth to their comrade Vatche Proudian, expressing gratitude for the fact that Proudian would be donating all the proceeds from the sale of his book to the activities of the Armenian Youth Federation in Armenia.
Daron Der Khachadourian, Chairman of the ARF Western U.S.A. Central Committee then delivered official remarks on behalf of the Central Committee. He emphasized the characteristics of Vatche Proudian as a comrade of the ARF, and considering his role and the legacy left in the Western U.S. region, he commended Proudian as a gift for the region that could only be ceded to the motherland. (See the full speech in the video below)
After the speech of the Central Committee, the organizing committee presented a memorial plaque to Vatche Proudian, on which was written “From the ARF Western United States Central Committee and its members to Comrade Vatche Proudian for his tireless activity within the region as an editor-in-chief, public and ideological figure. We are sincere soldiers without any status”
The official part of the program ended with the handing of the plaque, but the intimate words of farewell and good wishes continued until late at night.
The event was also a unique opportunity to obtain signed copies of the book from the author, due to which a long line was formed. Almost the entirety of copies of the book available were sold during the event.
The organizing committee also prepared a notebook, which was placed near the entrance, where the attendees recorded their heartfelt words and good wishes.