by Tom Vartabedian

Published: Tuesday November 01, 2011

Stephen Dulgarian and Ruth Thomasian with their Vahan Cardashian
Awards at the ANCA's Eastern Region banquet in Boston.

Boston - When it comes to humility and community service, look
no further than Stephen Dulgarian and Ruth Thomasian --- a couple
goodwill ambassadors who have brought homage and respect to their
heritage through their diverse ways.

Both were honored by the Eastern Region ANCA for their untiring
devotion to the Armenian Cause before 265 guests at the Seaport Hotel
Oct. 15.

The two icons, often known for their quiet and humble deeds, were
presented the coveted Vahan Cardashian Award, given annually to an
ANCA activist or supporter in behalf of a Yale-educated lawyer who
set aside his successful New York practice to advocate for the plight
of the Armenian Nation.

The evening was further accentuated by the presentation of the ANCA
Freedom Award to Senators Robert J. and Elizabeth Dole, both of whom
embraced the country of Armenia throughout their tenure, especially
in the post-earthquake era with a trip to that shattered land and
vast missionary work.

The Freedom Award represents the highest honor bestowed by the
ANCA for those who have exhibited an extraordinary commitment
to Armenian-American issues. Other recipients have included the
late Senator Edward Kennedy, human rights activist Samantha Power,
former Ambassador to Armenia John Evans and New Jersey Senator Robert

Because of Senator Robert Dole's ill health and his wife's constant
care, the two were unable to attend the dinner. Accepting in their
behalf was Executive Director Aram Hamparian.

"The Doles helped shape and shepherd an entire era of Armenian
advocacy," said Hamparian. "Together, they opened a door to friendship,
love, respect and dialogue. They stood by the truth through the highest
stations of American power and never relented in their support."

An Armenian connection remains indelible. When Robert Dole returned
from World War 2 with injuries that left his left arm useless and
about to be amputated, Dr. Hampar Kelikian, an Armenian native of
Hadjin, repaired the shattered shoulder and allowed the senator to
regain some use of the limb.

"Dr. Kelikian healed his body, mind and spirit," Hamparian added. "In
appreciation, no doubt, Senator Dole supported our issues. It is also
the story of our potential as Armenians and our possibilities."

Hamparian further pointed to oncoming generations to perpetuate
the work of the ANC and continue to plant the flowering seeds on an
inveterate history and heritage.

"So that we can sit as equals, contribute as friends and celebrate
as Armenians at the table of nations," he brought out.

Hamparian also called for a strong Armenia, free and fair; a safe
and secure Artsakh; a healthy Javakhk, and a genocide resolved.

Thomasian was singled out for her 36 years as founder, director
and purveyor of Project SAVE, and historical archive for Armenian
photographs that has preserved and documented some 35,000 images
dating back to 1860.

Over that time, 26 pictorial calendars have enhanced her mission,
based at 65 Main St., Watertown, the latest being one titled "Hype
Hats, Hair and Hands."

"Her prodigious efforts have nourished the fruits of our banal
existence and given recycled Armenian visuals a new purpose in our
midst," came the introduction. "Since 1975, Ruth has enhanced the
fragmented heritage of a dispersed people through memories of life
in historic Armenia and elsewhere."

Among the congratulatory messages was one received from Wayne F.

Smith, winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for the elimination of
land mines.

Thomasian looked upon her earlier life as an isolated and uninvolved
Armenian who suddenly found her way through Project SAVE, after
leaving a tenured teaching position at age 24.

"Now, I know more than I ever dreamed possible, learned from people
I've met and the stories they have shared," she revealed. "I've been
blessed with a devoted staff and board of directors, many of whom
are volunteers who've joined me with their love of social history
through photography."

Thomasian also paid homage to Cardashian as "a man who had focus,
purpose, passion and a vision --- all in the name of a free and
united Armenia."

Dulgarian's book of golden deeds includes an active letter-writing
campaign to legislators and newspapers in pursuit of justice and
recognition toward human rights. The son of genocide survivors, he's
a 50-year member of the Lowell Gomideh currently working toward the
erection of a genocide memorial in Lowell.

He's made 12 trips to Armenia, supports many an "adopted" child in
that land with his wife Angele, and served as an AYF advisor and
coach for decades. It all translates to a lifetime of meritorious
service for his ancestry.

"Of utmost concern should be the centennial observance in 2015 and
the welfare of our remaining survivors," Dulgarian brought out. "We
should lobby for the passage of a much-belated genocide resolution
in Congress as well as a postage stamp commemorating our genocide."

Dulgarian was joined at the dinner by his four children, their spouses,
and several of his nine grandchildren, along with friends throughout
the East Coast as far south as Florida.

"His home and hospitality, effort and enthusiasm toward a righteous
Armenia have always been extended," came his introduction. "A scholar,
humanitarian, community activist, he remains a role model for others
of his kind."

The program opened with welcoming remarks from Rita Bejakian, followed
by the singing of both national anthems by Tamar Kanarian. His Grace
Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, prelate, delivered the invocation after
commending the committee's diligent work and its focus on national
and international issues.