ASBAREZ ONLINE [06-11-2004]

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06/11/2004
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1) ANCA Mourns Passing of Ronald Reagan
2) Charles and Julie Ghailian Honorary Presidents of 29th Navasartian Games
3) Conference on Armenian Education in North America Comes to a Successful End
4) THE END OF AN ERA? NOT EVEN CLOSE

1) ANCA Mourns Passing of Ronald Reagan

PRESIDENT REAGAN WAS THE LAST US PRESIDENT TO PROPERLY COMMEMORATE THE
ARMENIAN
GENOCIDE

WASHINGTON, DC–The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) mourns the
passing of former US President Ronald Reagan and extends its deepest
condolences to the Reagan family as the nation prepares to lay the respected
statesman to rest this Friday.
“We join with all Americans in mourning the loss of President Reagan and in
sending our condolences to his wife and family,” said ANCA Chairman Ken
Hachikian. “We will remember President Reagan as the last US President to
properly commemorate the Armenian Genocide, the US leader who initiated
humanitarian aid to the survivors of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, and a
leader who believed deeply, throughout the dark years of the Cold War, in the
independence of Armenia.”
Ronald Reagan began his years in politics a close friend and supporter of
Armenian American interests. As California Governor from 1966 through 1974,
Reagan reached out to the Armenian American community and joined in their
annual commemorations of the Armenian Genocide. Most notably, in 1969, Reagan
joined His Holiness Khoren I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, a host
of state and local dignitaries and over 10,000 Armenian Americans at the
Armenian Genocide Memorial in Montebello, where he gave a rousing 15-minute
speech honoring the victims of that crime against humanity. “I am proud and
appreciate this opportunity to participate in this event,” said Gov. Reagan.
“Today, I humbly bow in memory of the Armenian martyrs, who died in the
name of
freedom at the hands of Turkish perpetrators of Genocide.”
Following his election to the presidency in 1980, Reagan distinguished
himself
as the last US President to properly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as
“genocide.” In Proclamation 4838, issued on April 22, 1981 to proclaim April
26-May 3 as “Days of Remembrance of Victims of Holocaust,” Reagan stated,
“Like
the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians
which followed it and like too many other such persecutions of too many other
peoples–the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.” Later in his
first term, the Reagan Administration, at the urging of Secretary of State
George Schultz and Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, retreated from this
stand and opposed successive Armenian Genocide Resolutions in 1985 and 1987.
Armenian Americans will also remember President Reagan as a primary force in
encouraging the US Senate to ratify and implement the United Nations Genocide
Convention. Adopted by the United Nations in 1948, the Convention
languished on
the Senate docket for some 40 years, despite the heroic efforts of Wisconsin
Senator William Proxmire (D) and later Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell (D)
to obtain passage of the measure. In 1986, President Reagan urged the Senate
leadership to take up the bill, and after a number of modifications, the
Convention was signed into law by Reagan in 1988.
Congress is currently considering legislation (H.Res.193 and S.Res.164)
marking the 15th anniversary of the implementation of the Genocide Convention.
Introduced in the Senate in June, 2003 by Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Jon
Corzine (D-NJ), S.Res. 164 currently has 39 cosponsors. Its companion House
measure, H.Res.193, led by Representatives George Radanovich (R-CA), Adam
Schiff (D-CA), and Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone
(D-NJ)
and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), was adopted unanimously by the House Judiciary
Committee in May, 2003, and has 111 cosponsors. The resolution cites the
importance of remembering past crimes against humanity, including the Armenian
Genocide, Holocaust, Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, in an effort to stop
future atrocities. Support for the measure has been widespread, with a diverse
coalition of over 100 ethnic, religious, civil and human rights organizations
calling for its passage, including American Values, National Organization of
Women, Sons of Italy, NAACP, Union of Orthodox Rabbis, and the National
Council
of La Raza.
In the last days of his second term, President Reagan led a US effort to help
the victims of the devastating December 7, 1988 earthquake in Armenia.
Reversing a 40-year standing policy that lasted throughout the Cold War,
President Reagan airlifted several planeloads of humanitarian assistance to
Soviet Armenia within weeks of the tragedy. In his December 25 radio
address to
the American people, Reagan stated that, in the time of tragedy, “the real
differences that divide us and will continue to divide us fall away.” He went
on to note the tremendous outpouring of US assistance in light of the Armenian
earthquake. “From the United States the response has been staggering,” he
said.
“Relief workers, tens of millions of dollars in private contributions, food,
clothing, a cascade of good will, and fellow feeling.”
President Reagan was given a state funeral on Friday, June 11.

2) Charles and Julie Ghailian Honorary Presidents of 29th Navasartian Games

Homenetmen–Living in the United States, we have adapted to the traditions of
our new country. One such tradition is the celebration of Memorial Day–a day
we honor our true heroes, those who have paid the ultimate price for the
freedom we have all come to value greatly. As Armenians, this freedom means
that much more to us having suffered through centuries of hardship and
oppression. As summer begins in Southern California, excitement fills us all.
As Armenians living in Southern California, summer means a little bit more,
especially May through July, a very special time of the year we call
Navasartian.
Each year, as Navasartian takes off, the manpower of Homenetmen collaborates
to realize this massive phenomenon. On Monday May 31, Memorial Day, the
Homenetmen family gathered to formalize this year’s Navasartian Games &
Festival by announcing that Mr. & Mrs. Charles and Julie Ghailian accepted the
responsibility of being the Honorary Presidents for this year’s Games. The
collective work of Homenetmen, the excitement of summer, and the magnificence
of Navasartian provide us the opportunity to focus on the life and devotion of
this year’s Honorary Presidents.
Charles Ghailian was born July 27, 1952 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Ghailian’s
roots lead back to Van, from where his grandparents migrated to Tehran, Iran
after the Genocide. His father was born in Tehran while his mother in Armenia.
Though his parents originally met in Iran, they were wed in Argentina in 1949.
The Ghailian family was involved in the Armenian Community in Buenos Aires,
particularly the elder Ghailian, who was an inspired member of the ARF and
played in an instrumental role in young Charlie’s nationalistic
development. It
is important to note that so many of the Armenian families that settled
throughout the world believed wholeheartedly in their important role as
educators of their children’s understanding and dedication for the Armenian
people. This most critical of responsibilities did not escape the Ghailian
family evidenced by not only the life that they lead, but by the life Charlie
Ghailian leads today.
The young Ghailian family relocated to the United States in 1959 settling in
Los Angeles. Almost immediately, Charlie was enrolled in the “Raffi”
Hayrenagtsagan organization scouting program where his mother was among the
founding executives. Through his high school and college years, Charlie
developed a strong passion for soccer. After spending several years in
scouting, Charlie joined the soccer team, which was at the core of the
establishment of the Homenetmen Los Angeles chapter in 1968.
Ghailian embraced life at an early age. In 1971, while only 19-years-old, he
moved to Denver, Colorado as a manager of a company in the clothing industry.
Life was beginning to come together for Charlie. Having met Julie at the
age of
15, the young sweethearts were married in 1973. Soon thereafter the couple
moved back to Los Angeles where they focused on their family and career. The
Ghailian’s came to be blessed with three children, Carlo, Angelo, and Monica.
In continuing the traditions taught to him, Charlie and his wife enrolled all
three of their children at Holy Martyrs Ferrahian Armenian School, as well as
the Homenetmen San Fernando valley “Massis” Chapter. With a continued focus on
the maintenance of our ethnic identity and heritage, it can never be said that
as a people, we do not do our part to serve our communities. Yet, we often
forget that our work, almost always, must begin with ourselves and our
immediate surrounding. Charlie and Julie Ghailian seem to always be leading
their lives with such principles. This has been demonstrated by their business
success, yet more importantly, in the way that they have created and nourished
their proud Armenian children.
Ghailian’s business accomplishments are especially noteworthy. From the
age of
31, he was a partner of Organically Grown Corp., a clothing manufacturing
firm,
and in 1988 he founded his own company CHAZZZ CMG, Inc. After running his own
shop for 10 years, in 1998 he merged with Tarrant Apparel Group, where he
continues to serve as President. Through the years, Ghailian’s professional
success appears to have been only a springboard for his family, civic, and
community commitments. He has always shared his success with the Armenian
community, particularly Homenetmen. Together with his children, he rejoined
the
ranks of Homenetmen in 1980 in the San Fernando Valley “Massis” Chapter.
Through the years, he has not only stood as a strong supporter of the
Chapter’s activities, but also the work of the entire Western United States
Region. In 1990, Charlie Ghailian was elected to the Homenetmen Western Region
Executive Committee as vice-chairman. He played an important role for
Homenetmen during those critical years as the organization’s membership was
booming and programs flourishing with the influx of Armenian immigrants to
Southern California and the coming of age of the first American born Armenian
generation. Both as an elected board member and a devoted supporter to
Homenetmen, Charlie has done a great deal in not only policy setting and
implementation, but in the crucial area of fundraising. Believing in the
necessary work of Homenetmen, Charlie and Julie Ghailian have never spared to
provide in every way possible. As the Honorary Presidents of this year’s
Games,
the Ghailians are donating $50,000 to Homenetmen. Certainly, this will go a
long way to ensure the continued prosperity of Homenetmen and all that it does
to provide a positive Armenian environment for our youth.
Expressing his thoughts on Homenetmen, Ghailian said, “Besides my family,
Homenetmen has been and continues to be the very essence of my Armenian
Identity. It has given me the opportunity to share in its principles of
elevating yourself and others around you. It has given me the simplicity of
family togetherness with a common goal of serving our Community, its youth,
and
our Motherland. The honor of being an Honorary President is humbling–the
greatest honor is to be part of this great organization and continue to look
forward to its main endeavors.”
It is unquestionable that Homenetmen is fortunate to have among its ranks a
devoted member as Charlie Ghailian who together with his wife, Julie, will
most
certainly bring excellent leadership and support to the 29th Navasartian Games
& Festival. Perhaps, for both its Honorary Presidents and the entire
organization, the greatest of accomplishments have only just begun.

3) Conference on Armenian Education in North America Comes to a Successful End

BURBANK–The conference titled “Armenian Education in North America:
Reassessment in The Context of The Changing Armenian American Identity,” came
to a successful end on the evening of June 5. The aim of the two-day
conference, organized by the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools, was
to address the variety of challenges that Armenian education and instruction
face.
At hand to discuss topics dealing with Armenian-American cultural identity
and
the evolving nature of Armenian education were Armenian school principals,
representatives of various Armenian schools, teachers, university professors,
psychologists, educational consultants and professionals from Canada, and
Eastern and Western United States.
The conference began on the morning of Friday, June 4. Archbishop Moushegh
Mardirossian, Woodbury university president Dr. Ken Neilson, vice-chairman of
the Western Prelacy Executive Council Dr. Hacop Der Megerdichian, and Chairman
of the Board of Regents Yeznik Kazandjian, addressed participants at the
opening of the conference.
Topics covered were “Development of the Armenian-American Cultural
Identity: A
Sociological and Psychological Perspectives,” “Pedagogical Challenges in
Armenian Education and Instruction,” and “Armenian Education and the
reassessment of the Armenian curriculum.”
Extensive coverage of the conference will be available in the Saturday, June
19 issue of Asbarez.

4) THE END OF AN ERA? NOT EVEN CLOSE

BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN

I have a confession. I wasn’t really upset when I heard about the passing of
President Ronald Wilson Reagan last Sunday. Judging from the media frenzy and
the hordes of people lining up to view his casket, I’m probably in the
minority
when I say that I wasn’t really moved by the loss of our 40th President. In
fact, I felt bad but it wasn’t because Reagan had suffered from Alzheimer’s in
the last years of his life but because I had thought that he had already died
some time ago. C’mon. As if any of you knew he was still alive. Some folks in
the media have gone so far as to say that the passing of President Reagan is
the end of an era. I wasn’t sure what era they were referring to. Would it be
the era that plunged our nation into its worst deficit ever, caused thousands
to drop out of college due to slashing of federal grants for poor students,
ignored the AIDS crisis which cost thousands of lives and is ravaging Africa
today? Or was it the era that witnessed blatant disregard for the rule of law
in the way of the Iran-Contra scandal, the ludicrous invasion of Grenada and
Lebanon, and the Savings and Loan disaster? Your guess is as good as mine. Now
some may say that Reagan was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union
through his staunch support of the arms buildup. But there were plenty of
other
factors that contributed to the breakup of the Soviet Union which was bound to
happen anyway. Taking credit for the “Cold War Victory” is like taking credit
for slaving away over a microwave to cook a TV dinner. Personally, I was more
upset and shocked to hear that R&B (that’s Rhythm & Blues for the culturally
challenged) legend Ray Charles had died than I was when I heard about
President
Reagan.
I’m not trying to rain on Reagan’s funeral procession. I’m just trying to
bring us all back into reality before we carve into Mount Rushmore the face of
a man who starred in such Hollywood classics as “The Voice of the Turtle”
(1947), “Brother Rat and Baby” (1940), and “Bedtime for Bonzo” (1951).
Contrary
to what you may think, “Bedtime for Bonzo” is not a documentary on Reagan’s
tendency to fall asleep at White House cabinet meetings but a movie about a
College professor who tries to teach human morals to a chimpanzee. Trust me;
I’m not making this up. The remake is currently being pitched as a reality
show
starring the Bush administration.
But as an American of Armenian descent, I’m obligated to judge Reagan on his
stance on Armenian issues as well. Here’s the list of things that Reagan is
credited with doing. As we’ve heard now many many times over, he was the last
President to use the word “genocide” in reference to the annihilation of the
Armenians by the Turkish authorities. He sent aid to The Soviet Socialist
Republic of Armenia in 1988 after the devastating earthquake. And finally, he
encouraged and supported the idea of a free and independent Armenia when it
was
a still a Soviet Republic. The first point is significant since every other
President to follow has avoided using the term, opting instead for any
possible
euphemism that does or doesn’t fit. Pretty soon speechwriters are going to run
out of things to say and we can expect a statement saying that “Armenians
suffered a very nasty boo-boo between the years of 19151923.” So the Gipper
(Reagan) gets a point for saying “genocide.” But that point should have an
asterisk next to it because it wasn’t Ronnie who wrote his own speeches.
Everyone likes to remember Reagan as the “Great Communicator,” but the real
credit should go to individuals like Republican activist and speech writer Ken
Khachikian (not to be confused with Ken Hachikian–ANCA National Chair), who
has climbed up the ladder of success in the Republican Party while always
staying true to his Armenian roots. Khachikian by the way, also wrote Reagan’s
1987 State of the Union Address–tell me that isn’t cool.
As for the last two items on the pro-Armenian list, I’m not all that
impressed. In terms of sending aid to Armenia after the earthquake, the
decision was a no-brainer. The only country that didn’t send aid was the
Republic of Turkey. And promoting the idea of a free and independent Armenia
during the Cold War is as predictable and contrived as the last episode of
“Friends.” Think about it? What else would Reagan have done during the Cold
War? Urge Armenia to remain part of the Communist block? That’s like telling a
battered spouse to stay in an abusive relationship.
I’m fine with mourning the dead. I even felt a bit of sorrow when Richard
“I-sold-my-soul-to-the-Devil” Nixon died. But I didn’t drive out to Yorba
Linda
(home of the Nixon Library) to slowly march around his casket like mourners
viewing Lenin’s body in the Red Square Mausoleum. I didn’t jump on the
bandwagon of praise for a man who ordered US soldiers to open fire on
protesting college students.
Reagan was a charming, articulate (albeit by proxy), Hollywood cowboy. And
until his last day in office, he was always an actor. I don’t understand
why so
many Americans ran out to stand along freeways waiting for a glimpse of the
hearse. Who were these people that could afford to take time off from work to
view the body anyway? Assuming they had jobs in this horrible economy to
start
with. Maybe they were the thousands of air traffic controllers that Reagan
fired during his term in office after they went on strike against the Federal
Aviation Administration. By the way, Reagan is the only President ever to fire
federal employees from their jobs for exercising their right to go on
strike.
Whoever the masses were, it is obvious that this country is at a point where
it is looking for heroes. Unfortunately, we are looking in all the wrong
places. The real heroes aren’t Hollywood actors and millionaires (Republican,
Democrat, or Green) turned politicians, they’re the people who work hard every
day against all odds to eke out a piece of the American Dream for themselves
and their families. They’re the everyday working stiff like you and me who
make
America the land of the free and the home of the brave (By the way, we
apologize for the inconvenience, but the Land of the Free ride is temporarily
closed courtesy of the Patriot Act). That’s right! You are my hero, not Ronald
Reagan. Yes! You are my hero! (Are you OK? Do you need a tissue?).
Maybe history will prove me wrong. Maybe the Presidents that follow Reagan
will be so inept that they’ll make Ronald look like George Washington. But if
the last three Presidents are any indication of what’s to come, Ronnie is en
route to replacing Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill and joining
Teddy,
George, Abe, and Tom on Rushmore. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world. Thank God
I’m only passing through.

Skeptik Sinikian is trying to become an actor so that he can break into
politics. After his first movie starring a gorilla, orangutan or chimp, he
plans to declare his candidacy for Governor of California. His campaign can be
reached at [email protected]

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