GLENDALE, CA – Over 300 mourners of all ages gathered on Artsakh Avenue on Nov. 13 to honor the courageous Armenian soldiers who died while fighting heroically during the Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) war at a candlelight vigil organized by the Social Democrat Hunchakian party’s Gaidz Youth Organization (GYO).
A moment of silence was observed to pay homage to the valiant soldiers, followed by opening remarks by GYO member Alex Berberian who spoke about the Armenian nation’s resilience and the duty we have to honor our brave soldiers. “Despite withstanding yet another difficult chapter in our history, our story still continues as it has for thousands of years. The Armenian nation will persevere through this just as it did in 451 AD on the plains of Avarayr, and in 1918 at the gates of Sardarabad,” said Berberian.
“Let’s come together and pay our respects to the heroes of Artsakh, the selfless protectors of our lands who were martyred while defending our ancestral homes, churches and peaceful way of life. These brave men and women made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may realize the mission of a safe and free existence in our homeland. We have the duty to honor them as one, unified, indispensable Armenian nation,” he added.
GYO co-Chair Alison Ghafari reminded the audience of the sacrifices made by the soldiers to protect our sacred lands. “For the past 46 days we have ached and wept bitterly as we read the names of each brave soldier lost. We watched them as they were on the battlefield defending Artsakh with smiles on their faces, telling us in Armenian not to worry because they were there to protect us. These soldiers did not die in vain. They defended their people until the very end, despite how little they had,” Ghafari said.
“Regardless of their circumstances, they never lost hope and they fought with love for their people, their history, their family, and their ancestors until the very end. May we never, ever forget their precious names and faces. May we always keep them on the forefront of our minds and forever in our hearts. We must honor them by staying united, and by never losing hope as they never lost hope. May we never let them down and forget the ultimate sacrifices that they have made for us,” she added.
The long list of names of martyred soldiers were read along with their birth years intermittently along with various speakers delivering speeches about solidarity in Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora. Musical performances were conducted by Marian Pachanian with a poetry reading of Paruyr Sevak’s “Kich Enk Bayts Hye Enk” poem by Angela Pachanian. Deacon Stepan Hovagimian led a solemn prayer in memory of the Artsakh heroes and delivered a powerful message of the right to defend one’s homeland.
“Yes, these are difficult times for all us. Our unity is more crucial than ever. Just a week ago we were together, from Madagascar to Buenos Aires, from Sydney to Stockholm. Before you all think we were defeated and became hopeless, I want you to be proud because we were one nation all over the world. We were stronger than ever before. I had never seen so much love and effort to help our homeland. We were strong and powerful and that is something that can never be defeated. That is victory brothers and sisters!” Hovagimian proclaimed.
“All of us are heartbroken, sad and angry, but we cannot stop now and we cannot quit now. We must be united more than ever. I am begging you my brothers and sisters, begging you to do your best to unite despite our differing opinions…Let us come together and be united,” he added.