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The 103rd anniversary of the independence of the First Republic of Armenia was commemorated on Friday, May 28, 2021, at St. Sarkis Church of Douglaston, New York, in an event organized by the ARF New York Armen Garo Gomideh and the church community, under the auspices of Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, pastor of St. Sarkis Church, and Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral of Manhattan.

Mher Janian served as master of ceremonies of the program, which championed the significance of the re-emergence of Armenia as a sovereign nation and foundation for today. “We can’t look towards our future without reflecting on our past,” he said. “We will never forget our martyrs who made the ultimate sacrifice for our independent homeland through the sheer force of will, guns, sweat, and tears.” He reiterated the importance of remaining “defenders of the Armenian homeland and the Armenian people.”

Ani Tchaglasian, Vice Chair of the ARF Eastern Region Central committee delivering her keynote address

In her keynote speech, Ani Tchaglasian, ARF Eastern Region Central Committee Vice-Chair, elaborated on the timeless values of selfless service passed on from generation to generation that brought everyone together to commemorate the momentous occasion. She noted the challenges facing Armenia and Artsakh in the present but urged Armenians not to concede and gain strength from the heroic examples of their history. “We do not have the right to yield,” she said, “and we cannot despair because we owe them and ourselves our dignity, self-respect and honor.”

Closing the program, Rev. Fr. Terterian reflected on the symbolism of commemorating the Armenian independence days of May 28, 1918, and September 21, 1991. Touching upon the Artsakh war last fall, he expressed his understanding that many were bitterly disappointed at the loss of lives and territory. He urged the public to remember that independence has not been a frequent occurrence in our history, but “we have never stopped being Armenian and we should continue to strengthen that Armenian spirit,” because “challenging times like this have occurred in our history, but this too shall pass, and we will reclaim what we have lost.”

The evening welcomed a number of members of the AYF New York “Hyortik” chapter and concluded with a Q & A session and a reception hosted by the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild.