By: Tom Vartabedian
Tue, Oct 18 2011

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

Dulgarian (L) and Thomasian Both were honored by the Armenian National
Committee of America (ANCA) Eastern Region for their untiring devotion
to the Armenian Cause before 300 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 honor of the 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 and Elizabeth Dole. Throughout
their tenures in Congress, both embraced the country of Armenia,
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
on 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 Menendez.

Because of Senator Bob Dole's ill health, and his wife's constant
care, the two were unable to attend the dinner. Accepting on their
behalf was ANCA 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

An Armenian connection remains indelible. When Bob Dole returned from
World War II 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,
paving the way for a relationship that educated the future Senator
about the facts and morality of the Armenian Cause.

Hamparian further pointed to oncoming generations to perpetuate the
work of the ANCA 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 an acknowledged genocide with
just reparations by its perpetrators.

Thomasian was singled out for her 36 years as founder, director,
and purveyor of Project SAVE, an 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 on 65 Main St. in Watertown, the latest 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 landmines.

Thomasian looked upon her earlier life as an isolated and uninvolved
Armenian who suddenly found her way to 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

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 and is 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.

Banquet Chairman Joshua Tevekelian emphasized the need toward
affirmative action while encouraging others to grow involved.

"Each person in this audience can make a difference," he said. "The
ANCA is an organization based upon dedicated, passionate, and
intelligent people who for the greater cause of our nation and her
interests have come together to create a better Armenia."

Tevekelian described both Cardashian Award recipients as pillars of the
Armenian community who have enhanced the cause in their own subtle way.

"We owe them both a debt of gratitude," he said. "They symbolize all
the qualities that serve our role."

Greg Bedian, ANCA-ER chairman, said much has changed over the past
year while recovering from a hard-fought battle over the genocide
resolution, despite relentless measures to get it passed.

"New realities in Washington, D.C., and the rest of the world have
required us to devise fresh strategies and new approaches to pursuing
the Armenian Cause," he said. "The winds of change that are sweeping
through the Middle East and the accompanying political realignment
will present us with different opportunities and perhaps new allies
to move our demands forward."

Bedian further said the Turkish government is attempting to exert
increased influence in the region while the Turkish-American community
is getting increasingly sophisticated in its approach to counter
our efforts.

"Our secret lies in the spirit of commitment," he noted. "The ANCA
has risen to the challenge and continues to be recognized by organs
like the Wall Street Journal."

In the nine years Tsoleen Sarian worked as an aide to former State
Rep. Peter Koutoujian, the experience she gained proved instrumental
as a community activist. "Tonight we celebrate activism, political
willpower, and the courage to run for public office," Sarian
indicated. "We must get more Armenians involved with the political
process and pledge our support to those running for office. Let
them feel the full strength of our Armenian American Diaspora." She
acknowledged the following members of the Steering Committee:
Tevekelian, Kristin Asadourian, Rita Bejakian, Ari Janessian, Tamar
Kanarian, Sabine Keljik, Stepan Keshishian, Ani Khatchadourian,
and Mariam Stepanyan.

Other messages were shared by Koutoujian, now a Middlesex County
sheriff; George Aghjayan, representing the ARF; and Robert Avetisyan,
permanent representative of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic to the
United States.

Also recognized for his zealous efforts was ANCA Chairman Kenneth
Hachikian, fresh from an invigorating speech in Armenia marking the
20th anniversary of the Armenian Republic. He was joined at the head
table by his wife Gloria.

In lieu of table favors, a generous contribution was made to the
ARS Education Fund, which assists orphans residing in Armenia and
Karabagh who have reached the age of 18. Accepting on behalf of the
organization was Tatul Sonentz-Papazian.

A silent auction preceded the dinner with cocktail music provided by
the John Baboian Ensemble.

(Photos by Tom Vartabedian) .