KANSAS CITY—On September 8, 2013, the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region’s (ANCA-WR) Government Affairs Director, Tereza Yerimyan, paid an unexpected visit to the Kansas Armenian community in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I didn’t expect so many newly immigrated Armenians residing in Kansas, but I was thrilled to see how resilient they all are to maintain their culture and traditional practices,” explained Yerimyan. “I’d like to thank the members of the Church council who helped organized the visit and the entire congregation for their warm welcome. The ANCA-WR looks forward to developing the Armenian community in Kansas and furthering the Cause, ” she added.
The gathering with the ANCA-WR took place at St. Garbed Armenian Apostolic Church after church services, led by Father Tateos Abdalian, ended. After the service the congregation held a potluck style lunch in the basement of the church. The lunch was a great an opportunity to meet new Kansas residents and visitors to the community.
Yerimyan was one of these visitors. Yerimyan discussed H.Res 227 the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution and how this resolution builds upon the U.S. record of having recognized the Armenian Genocide by asking the President to work toward improved Armenian-Turkish relations based upon Turkey’s full acknowledgement of the facts. Yerimyan also discussed the ANCA work in getting much need U.S. foreign aid to Armenian and Nagorno Karabahk. This was of great interest to the audience as many were familiar with the issues of mines in the region of Nagorno Karabahk. Lastly, she discussed the community work of the ANCA, such as the Path to College Program, which has helped parents and students better understand how to apply for and fund higher education. After explaining the political and community development work of the ANCA, the audience showed a great deal of enthusiasm and willingness to partake in the Armenian Cause. “We’re looking forward to all the work that lies ahead in our great city and state with the ANCA” remarked Sarkis Zadonyan, a Kansas community member who participated in the gathering. “It was a pleasure to have a visit that cultivated and grounded what will be a strong and lasting relationship,” Zadonyan added.
Many of the Kansas Armenians are refugees from Baku, Azerbaijan. Beginning on January 13, 1990, Azerbaijanis committed an anti-Armenian pogrom in their capital, Baku. This pogrom was following two others in the cities of Sumgait and Kirovabad. Thousands of Armenians fled the systematic violence and refugees are now scattered throughout the United States, Europe and Armenia. Azerbaijan later instigated an outright war against Nagorno Karabakk, during which Armenian civilian population centers were routinely shelled and indiscriminately attacked. Today, Azerbaijan continues to violate the cease fire agreement, refuses to recognize the independence of Nagorno Karabahk, and has made multiple threats of shooting down civilian air craft flying to or from the newly built airport in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno Karabahk.
“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people…” this famous quote by William Saroyan stands true for the Armenian-American community in Kansas today. Whether they were children of Genocide survivors, victims of the pogroms in Baku, or simply immigrated to the U.S. for a better life, the strength of the Armenian nation truly resounded in that basement at St. Garabed’s Armenian Apostolic church.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is 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.