Dallas, TX – On Saturday, April 2, community leaders, elected officials and activists filled the beautiful Stonebriar Country Club in the Dallas area to capacity to celebrate a century of Texas-Armenia friendship, including last year’s events in commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
Organized by the Armenian National Committee of America – Dallas (ANCA-Dallas), the prolific
“Texas We Thank You” Gala honored public officials’ unwavering support on Armenian American issues, as well as longtime community leaders whose dedication and commitment to the advancement of the Armenian cause has created ripple effects in the community’s overall positive accomplishments.
Master of Ceremonies and ANCA-Dallas Board member Avo Marzwanian, Esq., opened the gala and invited chapter chairwoman Lucia Nazarian to welcome guests. Prior to introducing fellow board members, discussing local accomplishments and future goals for the chapter, Nazarian asked for a moment of silence for the victims of Azerbaijan’s military aggression against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and war crimes against the indigenous Armenian population that had started in the late hours of the night on the day of the gala.
Texas State Representative Scott Sanford received Advocate for Justice Award for his strong dedication to raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide. In his speech, Rep. Sanford thanked ANCA-Dallas for the award, as well as outlined his plan of action for official recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the State of Texas. Other public officials at the event included State Representatives Matt Shaheen, Pat Fallon, and State Senator Van Taylor, who all spoke about the importance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide and pledged to jointly sponsor a resolution next year. Ebony Williams representing State Representative Ron Simmons presented a flag flown over the Texas State Capitol in honor of ANCA-Dallas. Michael Flusche read a letter on behalf of US Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz, stating in part, “I want to give special recognition to the Dallas Chapter of the ANCA for all of its hard work since its founding in Spring of 2015. From your involvement in co-organizing Advocacy Day in Austin to your support of Texas House Resolution 1541, you have displayed great determination and gained a noteworthy measure of momentum.”
The community honoree of the gala, Simon Gabriel, was recognized for his long-time support for local and national causes. A civil engineer by training, Mr. Gabriel was the President of an international investment and real estate company as well as served on the board of several International and US companies. In 1991 he was commissioned as Honorary Secretary of State of Texas. Gabriel was among a group of individuals who helped establish the Saint Sarkis Church in the Dallas area, as well as supported the efforts of the ANCA.
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian took to the stage and inspired the audience with news and activities on the Congressional level. He spoke of the importance of enforcing Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act that restricts aid to Azerbaijan, national efforts in eliminating double taxation, cited Congressional efforts to bring truth and justice to the Armenian Genocide, and spoke about the recent designation of ISIS atrocities against minorities, including Christian Armenians, as “genocide.” Hamparian also gave details of the latest news of the brutal attack by Azerbaijan on the Armenian civilians of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the killing of an 11-year-old student, as well as Azeri forces’ execution and mutilation of senior citizens in Talish over the weekend.
The gala was concluded with ANCA Western Region Executive Director Elen Asatryan who in her remarks noted that the gathering that evening and the need for civic engagement and activism was ever more important and significant given the current state in Artsakh. She went on to call on the attendees to join local efforts, meet with their representatives, participate in elections and make their community’s collective voice heard in pursuit of justice for the Armenian Cause and the development of the community on all levels of government.
The program also included invocation by Reverend Father Ghevond Ajamian, performance of the national anthems of Armenia and the United States by Rita Katanjian, reciting of Paruyr Sevag’s famous poem “We are few but we are called Armenian” by 6th grader Edward Gabriel Carbonel, patriotic songs sung by Shakeh Nichols and Bedig Bozikian, as well as Arno Babajanian’s Nocturne and Aram Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance by pianist and musician Satenik Muradyan Rafae, as well as an archival slideshow researched and prepared by the ANCA-WR on the strong Texan support for Armenian Genocide victims, which helped the Near East Relief save over 132,000 orphans of the Armenian Genocide.
“Thanks to the dedicated and hard work of ANCA-Dallas board members and volunteers, we proudly celebrated the humanitarian history of the State of Texas in saving Armenians during the Genocide,” remarked Nazarian. “Our successful Gala and the educational and advocacy events leading up to it are the beginning of our persistent fight for truth and justice. The event truly educated and energized our community to work together toward our common cause. We encourage community members young and old to join us as we embark on a heightened level of activism in the Dallas area,” she added.
Community members interested in getting involved with the local chapter may do so by calling 940.600.1915 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more or for up to the minute updates about ANCA-WR follow on social media platforms Facebook: ANCA Western Region, Instagram and Twitter: ANCA_WR or visit ancawr.org.
ANCA-Dallas is a chapter of ANCA-WR, the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Since its founding in 2015, ANCA-Dallas has co-organized Advocacy Day in Austin, helped pass Texas House Resolution 1541 in praise of Near East Relief 1915-1930 efforts to save “Armenians threatened with genocide in Turkey,” helped defeat anti-Armenian resolutions in the Texas legislature, hosted an information booth at the annual Dallas ArmeniaFest in October, and organized a grassroots talk in December.
The ANCA-WR initiative “America We Thank You: An Armenian Tribute to Near East Relief” is a movement to recognize the outpouring of generosity by the American people from the onset of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923) and for 15 consecutive years, and to highlight the efforts of Near East Relief in rescuing and providing assistance to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who were victims of the Genocide. For more information about AWTY visit www.americawethankyou.org.