President Serzh Sargsyan meets with representatives of the U.S. East Coast Armenian community

On March 30, President Serzh Sargsyan visited the Armenian Saint Hakop Church of Massachusetts. Accompanied by the Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Father Khajak Archbishop Parsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the USA of the Greater House of Cilicia Father Oshakan Archbishop Choloyan, the founder of the Armenia Tree Project Caroline Mugar and representatives of the Armenian community, the President laid a wreath and paid tribute at the monument dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Later, the President of Armenia had a meeting with the representatives of the Armenian community of the East Coast and made a statement. At the conclusion of the meeting, the President awarded a group of community representatives with high state awards and letters of commendation. In particular, on the occasion of Armenia’s Independence Holiday and for a significant contribution to the strengthening of the Armenia-Diaspora relations, President of the Boston University Doctor Aram Chobanian was awarded the Mkhitar Gosh Medal; for the impressive organization and implementation of the events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, members the US Boston area Coordinating Commission Anthony Barsamian, James Galustian, and Ara Nazarian received Presidential Letters of Commendation.

Remarks by the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan at the meeting with the representatives of the U.S. East Coast Armenian Community

Eminencies,
My fellow Armenians,

At the outset, I would like to extend to you my most heartfelt congratulations upon the miraculous and glorious Resurrection of our Savior Lord Jesus Christ, and wish you a Happy Easter. I am glad for this opportunity to meet with the representatives of this resilient and well-organized Armenian community and communicate with you in a warm and open environment. Such meetings provide us with an ample opportunity to directly confer with our sisters and brothers in diaspora, to discuss with them issues of their concern, and, most importantly, to present them with the approaches of the Armenian State on the challenges Armenia and Armenians face, to collaboratively look into the ways to respond to those challenges and to join our forces in addressing the issues that concern all Armenians.

“Wherever you go, yell ”Armenia”,” William Saroyan bequeathed. And you followed his behest and established here, in the United States, a dozen of little Armenias. In the course of these days I am indeed in “Little Armenia” of Boston. It is no coincidence since it is the home to one of the largest U.S. Armenian communities, which has made throughout its history a significant contribution to the cultural diversity and development of this nation. It was a matter of salient pride, when I saw the Armenian churches and centers, exhibition halls and museums, visited Armenian structures and organizations, the Armenian Heritage Park, as well as met here with the talented Armenian scientists and researchers. There was a warm and exciting meeting with the Armenian students attending the leading U.S. universities, who study here with the support of the “Luys” Foundation established in 2008. Boston is of special significance for the newest history of Armenia. Numerous young diplomats, political scientists, lawyers and experts in other areas of our newly independent State have been trained in the universities in this city. They brought back with them the best traditions of the Western culture, enriched with knowledge and skills, and currently they work for the empowerment and progress of our State.

I am grateful to the powerful Armenian-American community that has always been with the homeland at the critical junctures of our development, extending helping hand both in the aftermath of the Spitak earthquake and in the course of the Artsakh liberation war. You have greatly contributed to the establishment of the Republic of Armenia, to the social-economic advancement of Armenia and Artsakh by dedicating your time and resources to the settlement of the numerous issues that we face.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Upon the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide we united and consolidated our forces more than ever, and in a unified spirit we have been able to demonstrate to the world that Armenian will is strong and determined to continue its struggle to institute justice, to condemn the crimes perpetrated against humanity in order to prevent the crime of genocide from recurring anywhere in the world.

We have constantly been in touch and, thus, designed, coordinated and held remembrance events both in the U.S. and in a number of countries around the globe. We are grateful to the U.S. regional caucuses for the Centennial commemoration events, to all structures and organizations for their capable and excellent performance on that occasion. It was with your efforts that the Armenian Cause got high visibility in one of the most democratic countries of the world, where the human rights and freedoms are considered to be of a supreme value.

The struggle for survival of Artsakh launched 28 years ago came to prove our unity for national revival. Today the exercise of its right to self-determination by the Armenian people of Artsakh and security of Nagorno Karabakh remain important priorities for all Armenians. Unless Azerbaijan pursued maximalist positions and provocations it initiated, we, perhaps, should have already solved this issue and unlocked entirely new opportunities for these two nations. Our objective, of course, is the settlement of this dispute exclusively by peaceful means, but rest assured: we will not hesitate to take adequate measures in order to preempt and contain possible aggression of the adversary. Our views fully co-inside with the state motto of Massachusetts: “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.”

It is an obvious fact that Artsakh today has established itself as a State with all necessary attributes, such as institutes and structures, and it is an irreversible process. I strongly believe that by coordinating our efforts we will be able to establish Artsakh as a fully-fledged subject of international law and relations. It suffices to note that due to the efforts by the U.S. Armenian lobbying structures, and Armenian members of the U.S. state legislatures and town councils 6 U.S. states, including Massachusetts and two cities, adopted resolutions and determinations on the recognition of the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. I strongly believe that by joining our efforts we will be able to secure new success stories in this direction.

My fellow Armenians,

We should be united and take coordinated steps both for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, just settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh issue and for the economic development and prosperity of our homeland. There are numerous actions that we need to take in this direction, and I expect you to be actively taking initiative on your own. You are, of course, aware that the global economic crisis and economic upheavals did not circumvent Armenia, and it further complicated the conditions we have found ourselves in. Meanwhile, I should also register that even under the recent upheavals that European nations and Russia have gone through, we still have been able to register economic growth of three per cent, while a number of countries in our region have reported economic decline.

The inflation rate remained as envisaged, and it was lower in comparison to the other countries of our region. Obviously, these data are a testimony to the decreasing influence of the external shocks on the Armenian economy, which resulted from the socio-economic policy pursued in our country.

Meanwhile, recent international and regional developments provide us with ample opportunities to increase the economic attractiveness of our country. In 2015 Armenia acceded to the Eurasian Economic Union, thus getting access to the 170-milion populated market. Last May Armenia and U.S. concluded Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which opens new horizons for the enlargement of the bilateral trade and economic cooperation. And lifting sanctions on Iran opens up a 77-milion populated market at the immediate vicinity of Armenia.

I highly value both the consistent work of the Armenian diplomats and active engagement of the Armenian communities in the process of the adequate presentation of Armenia’s investment and economic attractiveness. Taking advantage of your connections with the American business circles, you can give a significant impetus to the foreign direct investments in Armenia. We do not fully utilize the untapped potential of the Armenian Americans; I strongly believe that if they are purposefully engaged the success stories will follow.

I have said it on other occasions and reiterate it today: Come to Homeland, make investments, make profit and, thus, contribute to the state-building, create new employment opportunities and help us with the development of the country. Armenia has got an untapped potential to attract investments, especially in the areas of infrastructure, mining, agriculture, reprocessing agricultural products, information technologies and engineering. It is obvious that concurrent to the development new opportunities arise for large investment, especially in the areas of tourism, healthcare, financial markets.

There are free economic zones in Armenia that provide with tax and customs benefits, and the major objective for their establishment was to attract foreign investment, to contribute to the growth of export through the application of new technologies, to create new employment opportunities and guarantee sustainable economic growth.

The capability and significance of every single one of us is in direct relation to the capability and significance of our homeland. Indeed, it is the only formula for viability of the Armenian people, key to its eternity.

In this context we stand ready to discuss your investment projects, new ideas, creative proposals; we stand ready to establish favorable conditions and environment for their implementation; we stand ready to encourage you exercise your entrepreneurial skills in homeland.

Armenia today certainly needs financial investments, but for the development of our country it more needs talents, skills and invaluable expertise of our Diaspora fellows. If we tap the potential of our diaspora inasmuch as another Massachusetts community, such as Irish, does that would give a great impetus to the development of Armenia.

My fellow Armenians,

We are fully aware that inasmuch homeland expects from Diaspora, to that same extent it should be of help to Diaspora. In this context, we consider the subsistence provided to the Syrian Armenians not to be a goodwill gesture of our State, but a direct obligation of Armenia. It is indeed the duty of our State to extend a helping hand to fellow Armenians in trouble.

Unfortunately, impunity paves the way for new crimes against humanity, which we witness today in our immediate vicinity, in the Middle East. Today the Armenian community of Syria is on the verge of extinction; the Armenian historical and cultural heritage is being wiped out and plundered. It is an ordeal, which we should survive unified. There is a lot to be done both by the State and Diaspora communities. Rest assured that Armenian Government takes all possible measures in order to provide with dignified subsistence to the 20 thousand Syrian Armenians, who sought asylum in the homeland. We have immediately granted them citizenship, provided them with free education, addressed their needs in healthcare, supported their entrepreneurial endeavors and helped them to establish themselves in the homeland. I am glad that the Armenian American community periodically holds fundraising campaigns to assist Syrian Armenians, and those donations make possible alleviation of the plight for our fellow Armenians not only in Syria, but also for those who relocated to other countries. Let us join our forces to help most of them to settle down in our homeland. It is very painful to observe the destruction of that flourishing colony, and we shall take all possible measures in order to assist the resettlement of that community in Armenia.

My fellow Armenians,

This year our nation will solemnly celebrate the 25th anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Armenia. In the course of the past years we have registered victories and achievements in a number of areas and became a fully-fledged member of the international community. We have always relied on our own resources, believed in our future and never yield an inch to the difficulties we faced.

Today Armenia has already entered a new era. Large-scale legislative, structural reforms are being implemented in our country. Their continuity has been ensured by the constitutional amendments adopted last December, which, I believe, will improve the mechanisms to respond to the internal and external challenges the Armenian nation faces. We are going to cover this path together with you by joining our forces for the empowerment of our homeland.

There are still numerous issues to address and missions to accomplish; I think, today we are ready to turn the page of history of our State that bears the “newly-independent” headline and together enter a new era to pursue all-Armenian objectives. Armenia is a dream, and we make it happen true. Armenia is a home of ours and of our forthcoming generations, regardless of our current place of residence. Armenia is, indeed, the warmest and most native corner for every single Armenian, and it will remain as such forever.

The 25th anniversary celebrations of Independence will concentrate on youth and, especially, on the generation of independence. To this end, the Ministry of Diaspora, jointly with Armenian General Benevolent Union, Luys and Ayb Foundation, initiated annual youth gathering under the motto “Let us create together destination Armenia” that will take place from June 11 to June 16. Its objective is to consolidate and provide with a joint collaboration ground to the creative new generation of our independence, scientists both from our homeland and Diaspora, graduate and post-graduate students of the leading world universities, and let them invest their knowledge and skills into the projects empowering Armenia. You too are bright representatives of this generation; therefore, we invite you to take part in that gathering.

I thank you all, all organizations, structures and unions of the Armenian American community for your work for the benefit of our nation, for your readiness to stand for Armenia and Artsakh. Meanwhile, I highly appreciate that you do not spare efforts to remain Armenian and to bring up new generations as Armenians. And we jointly build our powerful Armenia.

Long live free and independent Armenia! Long live Armenian-American friendship!

Azerbaijani leadership has lost its sense of reality, Armenian FM says

The leadership of ‪Azerbaijan names the Co-Chair states provocateurs only because they propose to create a mechanism for investigation of incidents,” Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said at a meeting with the faculty and students of the Artsakh State University.

“In fact, that criticism is directed not only against the Co-Chairs, but at least against the past and present participating states that presided over the OSCE, the United Nations, European Union, and in general all the states and institutions that have supported and support that proposal,” he said.

“The Azerbaijani leadership does not refrain from accepting, that it is behind the cease fire violations and escalation of the situation. It is even boasting of that fact. Leaving aside whether ‪‎Baku genuinely thinks there is something worth boasting of, or it is just a propaganda trick for the internal consumption, it should be once again stated that the Azerbaijani leadership has lost its sense of reality,” Minister Nalbandian said.

“This refers not only to the Nagorno Karabakh issue. They state, that Azerbaijan is no less than the most economically stable, the most democratic, the most tolerant state and the most secure place in the world in terms of the protection of human rights, that they may set an example for other states, while different international organizations, international HR institutions state the opposite. A kingdom of crooked mirrors is created in that country, the leaders of which, looking in those mirrors, admire themselves and call upon others to live in such a kingdom of crooked mirrors,” Edward Nalbandian stated.

EU, Armenia hold seventh round of human rights dialogue

On 17 March 2016, the European Union and Armenia held the seventh round of human rights dialogue in Yerevan.

The Armenian delegation was headed by Mr Garen Nazarian, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, and included officials and executives from different ministries and state agencies.

The EU Delegation was headed by Ms Elisabeth Tison, Head of Division, Human Rights Strategy and Policy Implementation, European External Action Service.

The dialogue was held in an open and constructive atmosphere, with discussions on a wide range of issues of mutual interest and concern, and allowed for an exchange of views on the human rights situation both in Armenia and in the EU.

Both sides acknowledged the progress in the reform process regarding the protection and promotion of human rights in Armenia.

The talks, in particular, were focused on: the national framework for the protection of human rights and the country’s commitment to achieving further progress in this area. Discussions also covered the judicial reform with a focus on penitentiary system; elections and electoral code; issues related to political freedoms and civil liberties and participation of civil society; anti-discrimination policy and protection of vulnerable groups; the situation with the rights of the child, and gender equality.

The partners also touched upon possibilities for concrete cooperation in the field of human rights within international organisations, in particular at the UN, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

Both partners committed to continue their cooperation on these issues, and to promote the respect of human rights and democracy on national, regional and international level. Based on their shared values, they underlined the importance of the EU support in promoting reforms in Armenia.

The Armenia-EU human rights dialogue was established in December 2009. Since then, the meetings are convened once a year, alternately in Yerevan and Brussels.

Messi or Ronaldo? Indian argument ends in murder charge

Indian police said Monday a man has been charged with murdering his friend after a heated argument over whether Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s best footballer, Agence France-Presse reports.

They said the Nigerian national stabbed one of his countrymen to death after the two of them wrangled over whether the Barcelona star or the Real Madrid forward was better.

Police Inspector Kiran Kabadi told AFP an offence of murder had been registered against Michael Chukwuma, 21, over the death of 34-year-old Obina Durumchukwu on Sunday in the northern Mumbai suburb of Nallasopara.

The friends had apparently got together on Saturday night to celebrate Durumchukwu’s birthday. The following morning an argument over football turned to tragedy.

“The two Nigerian youngsters were discussing football players. One is a fan of Messi and the other was for Ronaldo,” the inspector said.

“During the conversation a quarrel has taken place. The deceased threw a glass into the face of the accused person. The glass broke and caused small injuries.

“After that the accused took the broken glass and assaulted the deceased person who died due to heavy bleeding,” added Kabadi.

Today is Andranik Ozanian’s 151st birth anniversary

February 25, 2015 marks the 151st birthday of Andranik Ozanian (Zoravar Andranik), Armenian military commander and statesman, key figure of the Armenian national liberation movement.

He became active in an armed struggle against the Ottoman government and Kurdish irregulars in the late 1880s. He joined the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktustyun) party and, along with other fedayi (irregular soldiers), sought to defend the Armenian peasantry living in their ancestral homeland, an area known as or Western Armenia—at the time part of the Ottoman Empire.

His revolutionary activities ceased and he left the Ottoman Empire after the unsuccessful uprising in Sasun in 1904. In 1907, Andranik left Dashnaktustyun because he disapproved of its cooperation with the Young Turks, a party which years later perpetrated the Armenian Genocide. In 1912–1913, together with Garegin Nzhdeh, Andranik led few hundred Armenian volunteers within the Bulgarian army against the Ottomans during the First Balkan War.

Since the early stages of World War I, Andranik commanded the first Armenian volunteer battalion and led them within the Russian Imperial army against the Ottoman army. After the Revolution of 1917, the Russian army retreated and left the Armenian irregulars outnumbered against the Turks. Andranik led the defense of Erzurumin early 1918, but was forced to retreat eastward. By May 1918, Turkish forces stood near Yerevan—the future Armenian capital.

The Armenian National Council declared the independence of Armenia and signed the Treaty of Batum with the Ottoman Empire, by which Armenia gave up its rights to Western Armenia. Andranik never accepted the existence of the First Republic of Armenia because it included only a small part of the area many Armenians hoped to make independent. Andranik, independently from the Republic of Armenia, fought in Zangezur against the Azerbaijani and Turkish armies and helped to keep it within Armenia.

Andranik left Armenia in 1919 due to disagreements with the Armenian government and spent his last years of life in Europe and the United States seeking relief for Armenian refugees. He settled in Fresno, California in 1922 and died five years later in 1927. Andranik is greatly admired as a national hero by Armenians; numerous statues of him have been erected in several countries. Streets and squares were named after Andranik, and songs, poems and novels have been written about him, making him a legendary figure in Armenian culture.

Andranik died from angina on 31 August 1927 at Richardson Springs, California. Andranik’s remains were originally planned to be buried in Armenia; however, the Soviet authorities refused entry.He was first buried at Ararat Cemetery in Fresno, and his remains were moved to France and buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris on 29 January 1928.In early 2000, the Armenian and French governments arranged the transfer of Andranik’s body from Paris to Yerevan.

No violation of the cease-fire regime registered during OSCE monitoring

On February 4, in accordance with the arrangement reached with the authorities of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, the OSCE Mission conducted a planned monitoring of the Line of Contact between the armed forces of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan in the south-east direction of Kuropatkino settlement of the NKR Martuni region.

From the positions of the NKR Defense Army, the monitoring was conducted by Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk and his Field Assistants Yevgeny Sharov (Ukraine) and Khristo Khristov (Bulgaria), as well as by representative of the OSCE High-Level Planning Group (HLPG) Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Nepokritikh (Russia).

From the opposite side of the Line of Contact, the monitoring was conducted by Field Assistant of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Jiri Aberle (Czech Republic), Personal Assistant to the Personal Representative of the CiO Simon Tiller (Great Britain) and staff member of the Office Peter Svedberg (Sweden), as well as by representative of the OSCE High-Level Planning Group (HLPG) Colonel Tuncay Sevim (Turkey).

The monitoring passed in accordance with the agreed schedule. No violation of the cease-fire regime was registered.

From the Karabakh side, the monitoring mission was accompanied by representatives of the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense.

US Ambassador’s New Year message

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!

From Leigh and all my colleagues at the U.S. Embassy, I want to thank everyone in Armenia for giving me and Leigh one of the best years of our lives, since we arrived here in February 2015. I arrived with a video in which I quoted an American painter, Rockwell Kent, who described Armenia as a place full of wonders. And in the last ten months, I understand exactly what Mr. Kent means. I have seen wonderful wonders here in Armenia, from the monastery Geghard to the frescos in Meghri to the fountains in Yerevan Square. But, I think what’s made the most impression on me and my wife is the wonder of the Armenian people, who have been so kind, so open, and so warm to us since we have arrived. And it is a memory that will stay with me, this year and throughout my life. What I wish, I think when I look ahead to the New Year, is something that was expressed to me by a young Armenian who was participating in the Special Olympics program, which I think as many of you know, is a program designed for mentally challenged young people and gives them  a chance to participate in sports. This young Armenian, I believe he is about 14 or 15, had just come back from Los Angeles, where he has been on the Armenian National Special Olympics team. And I asked him: Why it was important for him to have been on the Special Olympics team. And this young boy, whose name was Armen, said to me: “Mr. Ambassador, it made my parents very proud and whatever happens in my life it will get me confidence knowing that I once did this hard thing.”  And I think, as I go into 2016, I am going to live by Armen’s words. I’m going to ask myself am I, is the Embassy, are we doing things that will make our parents proud? The most important, I am going to say: let’s have confidence, let’s have confidence to try some hard things. Because we’ve done some good things, working together with the Armenian people. And because I know how much the Armenian people have accomplished here over the last 24 year of independence, it gives me great hope for 2016. And I hope, as well, that you share that. Best wishes and a Happy, Happy New Year.

EBU marks UN Human Rights Day with unique concert

To commemorate UN Human Rights Day (10 December) the EBU is making available a special concert by world-famous conductor Daniel Barenboim and his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performed at the United Nations’ Headquarters in Geneva.

26 EBU Radio Members will air the concert entitled “For the Understanding of Civilisations and Human Rights” which was recorded on 31 October in the Human Rights Hall of the UN’s Palace of Nations in front of an audience including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is made up of musicians from Israel and Palestine as well as other Arab countries and was formed to promote understanding, integration and reflection through music.

The concert programme comprises three symphonies composed by Mozart in 1788, three years before his death at the age of 36: Symphony NÂş 39 in E flat major K.543, Symphony NÂş 40 in G minor K. 550 and Symphony NÂş 41 in C major K. 551, known as Jupiter Symphony.

The aim of the concert is to highlight, through music, the principles contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We are thrilled to be able to distribute this meaningful concert,” said the EBU’s Head of Music Pascale Labrie. “Music stirs the soul and unites peoples so there is no better way to mark UN Human Rights Day than sharing this unique performance with audiences in 26 different EBU Member countries.”

‘Multiple victims’ in California shooting

Police are attending a shooting at a social services facility for disabled people in California, the BBC reports.

Fire officials in San Bernardino said it was responding to a “20 victim shooting incident” and it was working to clear the scene.

ABC News reports that there are 12 people dead but police have not confirmed that number.

It is still a “very active scene” and police are trying to secure the building, said a police spokeswoman.

There may be up to three gunmen, she said, and they were heavily armed and possibly wearing body armour.

Sara Corning, the woam who helped save 5,000 Armenian orphans

Anyone with a penchant for dates and history may recall that in 1922, Marconi began making regular broadcasts from England, the British Broadcasting Corp. was established, and 14 republics formed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

It’s also the year that Ecuador gained independence, and when Josef Stalin was appointed general secretary of the Communist Party.

A lesser-known story that also unfolded in 1922 — yet one with huge historical import — involved a woman from rural Nova Scotia and the fate of over 5,000 Armenian orphans.

Meet Sara Corning.

Corning was born in Chegoggin, Yarmouth County, in 1872. After finishing high school, she went to New Hampshire to study nursing — a plucky thing for a young woman to do back then.

In December 1917, she heard about the Halifax Explosion and immediately went there to help.

Shortly after, Corning joined the American Red Cross and was eventually assigned to the Near East Relief, which was providing humanitarian services to the Armenians who were being massacred by the Ottoman Turks.

In 1922, Corning travelled to Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) where the Near East Relief was headquartered. From there, the 50-year-old was sent to the Armenian capital to be in charge of an orphanage. She also worked in refugee camps.

By year’s end, she was stationed on the coast in Smyrna (now Izmir) — a city characterized by disaster and chaos.

Corning later recounted in the Kimball Union Alumni Bulletin that “the Turkish army was just taking the city as we arrived.”

“The place was crowded with many sick refugees and we opened a clinic to take care of them as best we could, but it was soon closed by the soldiers.”

She wrote about looting, the city being set afire and how many of the refugees jumped into the harbour and drowned rather than be burned alive.

Under great peril, Corning gathered the children from the orphanage there and led them through the burning city to safety aboard an American ship, where they were taken to Constantinople. She later established an orphanage for them on the island of Syros in Greece.

In June 1923, Corning was invited to Athens, where King George II of Greece presented her with the Order of the Knights of St. Xavier for her courage and bravery.

The following year, Corning returned to Turkey, where she continued to work and care for orphans. She also adopted five children. Although they did not always live with her, she provided for their well-being and education.

Fast-forward to April 21, 2004, when the Canadian Parliament passed Bill M-380 recognizing the deaths of over 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923 as a genocide.

Earlier that month, His Holiness Karekin ll, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, issued a statement titled Message of Blessing, which included a tribute to Corning.

It said in part: “The name of the late philanthropist Sara Corning is very cordial and precious to Armenians living around the world. (We) acknowledge with deep gratitude her efforts to salvage several thousands of their compatriots living in Turkey … they were saved thanks to the unwavering humanitarian works of Sara Corning.”

Local historian Susie Sweeney was recently commissioned by the Yarmouth Waterfront Development Corp. to write content about Corning for an interpretive panel that the town intends to install in Frost Park.

Sweeney said that in the past, older people in Chegoggin knew about Corning’s story, but no one made a fuss. Nor did Corning ever bring attention to herself; hence, very few people in Yarmouth know her story.

Sweeney added that “Sara was strong in her faith and dedicated her life to serving humanity.”

“Her attitude seemed to be that she had a job to do and simply got on with it.”

The Yarmouth County Museum and Archives has a large display that houses the heroine’s nursing uniform and other items such as her passport and the medal she was awarded from the King of Greece.

Jennifer Rodney-Chown, a native of Yarmouth now living in Fall River, has had a lifelong interest in the characteristics of peacemakers and humanitarians.

Captivated by Corning’s story, Rodney-Chown and her husband, David, left on a Mediterranean journey this past summer in hopes of learning more.

There were many highlights, including a week’s stay in Syros.

“It was an emotional experience for me after researching about Sara these past years,” she said.

Rodney-Chown learned from their hosts at Hotel Ploes about an Armenian woman in town who might be a relation to an orphan from Smyrna and could be found selling loukoumi and nougat (sweet confections) in a shop adjacent to the town’s square.

It didn’t take the Rodney-Chowns long to find the shop and its owner, Constantina Sykutri.

“Behind her on the wall were black and white historical photos of Smyrna!” said Jennifer Rodney-Chown. “Her father was one of the Armenian orphans. She belongs to an Armenian group who keep the traditions and the memories alive.”

Another highlight was to visit the area where the orphans were relocated. Although the red-roofed buildings are still standing, they are used as military barracks.

Because it was a weekend, no one was available to authorize entrance. So their driver took them to a location overlooking the buildings to take photos.

“This is where Sara gathered all the children together to form with their bodies the scripture verse: Second Corinthians 1:8-11, where they were photographed from a plane,” said Rodney-Chown. “The verse expressed the suffering they experienced and the miracle of their survival through God’s help and those who cared for them.”

Rodney-Chown has huge admiration for her distant cousin and hopes that the town of Yarmouth will not only install the interpretive panel Sweeney worked on, but will also erect a statue in her honour.

“Sara showed through her life that no matter what history lay before (us), the extended hands of understanding, friendship and assistance are powerful and healing wherever mutual openness exists. Sara gave all that and more: in Halifax, in Turkey, in Greece … when a door opened, she walked in and gave her best, truly helping others to survive and thrive.”

Although Sara Corning is not a household name in Nova Scotia, she is well-known to the Armenian community in Canada. In September 2012, the Sara Corning Centre for Genocide Education opened in Toronto.

After her retirement, Corning moved back to her childhood home; she died in 1967. Her headstone in the Chegoggin Baptist Church Cemetery reads: She Lived To Serve.