PASADENA, CA - On Sunday, February 12, 2006, the Western District Committee of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Organization (Ramgavar party) organized a successful program to celebrate the life and work of Hratch Yervant at the A.G.B.U. Center in Pasadena, California. Under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, the event included memorable recollections of Hratch Yervant, along with songs and recitations.
Serving as the Armenian-language master of ceremonies, Hratch Sepetjian first introduced the great-grandniece of Hratch Yervant, Kim Bardakian, to serve as the English-language master of ceremonies. Miss Bardakian, a dedicated member of the Armenian Church and A.G.B.U., quoted from Vahan Tekeyan's famous poem “Judgment,” which begins with the following verse: "What remains? What's left to me of life? That which I gave to others, strangely only that." She stated that Hratch Yervant has left the Armenian people a large legacy, from which we can all learn and incorporate through our dedicated service to the Armenian community. She thanked the audience for their presence in remembering her great-granduncle on the 120th anniversary of his birth in Kharpert.
Miss Bardakian then introduced the keynote speaker of the event, Dr. Kevork Keshishian, a longtime A.D.L. and A.G.B.U. leader, and his wife, Cecile, a recent recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and, equally, a prominent leader in the Armenian-American community. Dr. Keshishian meticulously described the contributions of Hratch Yervant [Nishan Yacoubian], dating from his birth in Kharpert on May 21, 1885 to his death in Boston on September 12, 1968. Keshishian eloquently portrayed the life of Hratch Yervant starting as a student of Tlgadintsi [Hovhannes Haroutyoonian] at the Azkayin Getronagan Varjharan [Armenian National School] to the two years he attended Yeprad [Euphrates] College in Kharpert, and his brief stay at the Armash Seminary in 1903 before his first arrival in the United States.
Dr. Keshishian vividly recalled Hratch Yervant's work as editor of numerous Armenian newspapers throughout various stages of his life, including Tsayn Hayrenyatz in Boston at age twenty-two, Bahag in Boston and then Providence, Jhoghovoortee Tsayn in Constantinople, Oror in Fresno, and Abaka in Paris. Emphasis was placed on his writings as longtime editor of the Baikar daily newspaper in Boston, and, especially, his editorials fully supporting the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin during turbulent times. Dr. Keshishian also noted that Hratch Yervant graduated from Boston University Law School in 1912, and was one of the first Armenians to pass the Massachusetts Bar Examination. He carefully described how Hratch Yervant escaped from the Turkish police on April 24, 1915 in Constantinople with the help of an Armenian friend who kept him in his shop for several months. In September 1915, with the assistance of U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, he departed for Boston. Dr. Keshishian indicated that Hratch Yervant was one of six individuals who signed the document, which formally merged and established the Ramgavar Azadagan Goosaktsootyoon [Armenian Democratic Liberal Organization] in Constantinople in 1921, after which Hratch Yervant became the first chairman of the A.D.L.
Remembered were visits by Hratch Yervant to Armenian communities throughout the world, including the Balkans, Cairo, Beirut, Athens, Geneva, Shabin Karahisar, Sepastia, Arapkir, Chunkoush, Dikranagerd, Ourfa, Aleppo and St. Louis, Missouri, among many others. Hratch Yervant also visited Soviet Armenia in 1926 and 1934. Dr. Keshishian also emphasized Hratch Yervant's work for the Armenian General Benevolent Union. He highlighted the fact that A.G.B.U. founder Boghos Nubar Pasha commissioned Hratch Yervant to travel to the Far East, and to help advise and strengthen the Armenian communities of India, Burma, Singapore, and Indonesia. Mrs. Cecile Keshishian gracefully read passages from an article written by poet Antranik Zarougian about Hratch Yervant. In the article, Zarougian colorfully remembered how Hratch Yervant diplomatically and intelligently responded and reacted at a public gathering in Boston. Generating much applause, Dr. Kevork and Mrs. Cecile Keshishian announced their donation of $5,000 towards the publishing of a book about A.D.L. leaders who have also diligently served the A.G.B.U. Mr. Garo Ayaltin articulately presented the official message of the Western District Committee of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Organization on the 120th anniversary of the birth of Hratch Yervant. Ayaltin, who, like Hratch Yervant, previously served as the editor of Baikar in Boston, spoke of Hratch Yervant's important role in shaping the ideology of the A.D.L. from its birth in 1921. He also mentioned the outstanding oratorical skills of Hratch Yervant, and the impact of his writings on the Armenian community. Mr. Ayaltin's insightful remarks validated Hratch Yervant's role as the most prominent leader of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Organization to have lived a major portion of his life in the United States.
The Honorable Rafi Manoukian, Mayor of Glendale, California, briefly addressed the audience. In his remarks, he stated that Hratch Yervant is an "unsung hero" of the Armenian people and warmly referred to his friendship with Hratch Yervant's relatives in Los Angeles. Taline Gettas of the A.G.B.U. Manoogian-Demirjian School in Canoga Park, and Rita Alajajian and Arpi Posnoyan of the T.C.A. Arshag Dikranian School in Hollywood recited works of poetry intermittently throughout the evening. Their classmate, Dikran Koushinyan, performed works on the piano. Mrs. Elise Tashjian, accompanied by Mr. Levon Aprahamian on the piano, sang three songs by Sayat Nova, in memory of Hratch Yervant, who himself enjoyed singing works of Sayat Nova at public appearances. Speaking on behalf of the relatives of Hratch Yervant from Boston to New York to the West Coast, his great-grandnephew, Carl Bardakian, a deacon of the Armenian Church and A.G.B.U. member, enthusiastically thanked the chairman of the Western District Committee of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Organization, Ara Aharonian, as well as the entire A.D.L. for organizing such an enlightening program. Bardakian credited Aharonian for initiating the idea of this event over a year ago and for coordinating the successful program. He also commended the master of ceremonies, Hratch Sepetjian, who not only prepared the evening's commemorative booklet, but also was named after Hratch Yervant. Bardakian indicated that he was prepared to contribute to the publication of a book devoted to the life of Hratch Yervant. He stated that Very Rev. Fr. Krikor Maksoudian of Boston, a longtime family friend, and the foremost expert on the life and work of Hratch Yervant, should be commissioned for such a project. His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, commended the youth who performed in the program, and the A.D.L. for organizing a memorable evening. He noted that Hratch Yervant was a true patriot of the Armenian people and stated that his editorials and writings should be gathered and published. The program concluded with the final benediction by the Primate.