Chicago Armenian Youth Lead Genocide Commemoration on April 23

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By Andrew Devedjian

CHICAGO, Ill.—”Click, click, click, fall the dominoes,” exclaimed Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Chicago “Christapor” Gomideh member Unger Ara Surenian in his opening remarks on April 23. This kicked off the commemorative program at the Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church in Glenview for the 101st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, titled, “Armenian Genocide 101: The Next Chapter Starts with Our Youth.” The dominoes Surenian was referring to represent the passing of our history, customs, traditions, and stories from generation to generation for over 4,000 years until the present. The night was highlighted with presentations by the Chicagoland youth that demonstrated the transmission of narratives and traditions. Each presentation focused on the different approaches to teaching the Armenian Genocide in schools.

A scene from the performance

Member of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Chicago “Ararat” Junior chapter Ungeruhi Sevana Dombalagian discussed how to make a presentation on the genocide in schools. She showcased slides from her own presentation to her school, encouraging her peers to take similar steps. Surenian then introduced the Taniel Varoujan Armenian School’s 7th grade graduating class students, who recited a poem by Yeghishe Charents. The poem, entitled, “Yes Im Anoush Haiastani,” expressed the beauty of Armenia and all it has to offer. After the recitation, 1st-7th grade students beautifully sang “Sardarabad” and “Mousa Ler.”

AYF member Andrew Devedjian then discussed a presentation he made at his high school along with a video he prepared. The video highlighted major crimes against humanity in the 20th and 21st centuries. He stated that the video was meant to help the youth connect with other communities and feel a call to action by watching scenes from various dark points in modern human history.

The Hamazkayin Sardarabad Dance Group of Chicago performed a dance to the song, “Hzor Hayasdan,” which uplifted the spirits of the crowd. At the conclusion of the dance, AYF member Alek Surenian was called to the podium to make a presentation about his artwork, which was inspired by the Armenian Genocide and featured various designs reflecting both horror and hope.

The Hamazkayin Sardarabad Dance Group of Chicago

As the program came to a close, AYF member Daron Bedian offered remarks on behalf of the Armenian Youth Federation.  Bedian discussed how the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was a turning point and, just as the martyrs were transformed into saints, the Armenian people have moved beyond victimhood. Going forward, Armenians will shape a new Armenian identity, rooted in the heritage of our homeland of 100 years ago, he added.

At the conclusion of the program, the AYF led the crowd outside to take part in the Candlelight Vigil in front of the Armenian Martyrs’ Monument. AYF members Violette Dekermenjian, Sevag Yacoubian, and Andrew Devedjian read the names of 101 Armenian intellectuals arrested on April 24, 1915, and later killed.

AYF members read the names of 101 Armenian intellectuals arrested on April 24, 1915.

Hayr Sourp Ghevont Pentezian then offered the closing remarks, complementing the work of the youth, and noting that we as Armenians must be strong. The crowd then sang “Giligia,” “Sardarabad,” and “Harach Nahadag,” while candles illuminated the memorial. As each candle was blown out one by one, we can be reminded of the quote by Baruyr Sevag: “We are few, but we are Armenian.” As the Chicagoland Armenians, and the youth in particular, are few… but this night showcased how strong we all are.

A scene from the candlelight vigil


Andrew Devedjian is a member of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Chicago “Ararat” chapter.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Chicago Armenian Youth Lead Genocide Commemoration on April 23