Armenians Achieve 19 Years of Independence

Rachel Mills

A crowd gathered in Verdugo Park Sunday to celebrate the 19th Armenian Independence Day, which is officially on Sept. 21.

Covered booths where set up in the middle of the park offering services, information, and items for sale. Outside the ring of covered booths was a kabob stand called the Original Kabob Factory. Near the service booths was a stage where Armenian singers entertained.

A group known by the name of “Nor Serount” (New Generation) has conducted the festival for 12 years with help from the city of Glendale. Other contributors this year included Money Gram, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and the gas and power companies. The Armenian publication Yerevan was also present with a booth.

The people dancing to the music in front of the stage ranged greatly in age, from seniors to a much younger generation that seemed proud of their heritage and culture. Some of the dancing was unlike anything seen on television from today’s pop princesses and princes. Most of the dancing was traditional Armenian.

Across from the stage was a covered booth containing artwork from a local retired art teacher who had attended the Independence Day celebration last year.

The artist was so moved after watching the Armenian folk dancers that she painted a series of pictures featuring strong sensual Armenian women dancing. Two other pieces in the exhibit depicted landscapes. One landscape was of Mount Ararat, the mountain of legend where Noah landed after the floods. The other landscape depicted an Armenian Genocide memorial.

The retired teacher is not Armenian. She said that she came to the event out of curiosity and then saw the women dancing. She hopes that her art might bridge cultural gaps.

Gary Sinanian, the event leader, was proud to be hosting this artist at the event. Sinanian believed that she helped to generate interest in Armenian culture.

Steven H Gimian, one of the emcees, who has taken part in the event in previous years, recounts the moving experience from 2001 that helped bring the American culture and the Armenian culture together.

“We were asked to not host the event (Armenian Independence Day),” said. He said that after the tragedy of 9/11, people did not think it was proper to celebrate like that. In response to the national tragedy, the group gathered together and presented an award to the service people of Glendale.

GCC Armenian studies Professor Levon Marashlian said that the importance of celebrating Armenian independence is that the time frame of Armenia’s independence has been such a brief time, comparatively.
The people celebrating their independence on Sunday displayed what makes being an Armenian American unique.

“They are a people that stay with the land in heart,” the professor said.