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Heroes and Healers: Stories of Courage and Altruism in Times of Genocide

Heroes and Healers: Stories of Courage and Altruism in Times of Genocide

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The Armenian American Medical Society (AAMS) celebrated Heroes and Healers: Stories of Courage and Altruism in Times of Genocide, in commemoration of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The event honored medical professionals and others who embody the spirit of humanitarianism, looking past ethnic and religious differences to save lives and champion the plight of the victims of these and other atrocities of the 20th and 21st century. Those honored posthumously were Floyd Smith, MD. Armin T. Wegner, and Clarence Ussher, MD, who displayed heroism during the Armenian Genocide; and Ara Jeretzian and Harutyun Khachatryan, MD, honored for their acts of bravery during Holocaust. Family members of each honoree were present to accept awards on their behalf. In addition, Sabrina Avakian was honored for her work promoting human rights across the globe, currently serving on a UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.

"In remembrance of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, we chose to honor these individuals because of the selflessness and courage they displayed in the face of evil," said Vicken Sepillian, MD, AAMS member and co-event planner. "The evening was a celebration of their humanity and a solemn reminder that the atrocities of genocide still exist today and cannot be ignored or forgotten.

 

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The event kicked off Friday, April 10, 2015, with a special reception hosted by the Consulate of the Republic of  Armenia, where the guests of honor and AAMS committee members were welcomed by Deputy Consul General Valery Mkrtoumian."I would like to thank the family members of the honorees who attended the event," said Evelyn Baghdasraian Barkhoudarian, AAMS board member who served as emcee for the event, as well as event co-planner. "Many of them traveled a great distance so they could share the stories of their ancestors with us-stories that left those in attendance humbled and inspired."
 
The main event took place Saturday, April 11, 2015, with a celebration held at the Glendale Civic Auditorium. More than 300 people gathered for this very special occasion. Family members of the honorees spoke eloquently and movingly of the feats of their relatives, sharing personal remembrances and providing unique insights into their experiences. These stories were all the more poignant, thanks to accompanying multimedia presentations featuring photos, video and interviews of the honorees.

"To hear the remarkable stories of these heroes from the perspective of their family members gave us deeper understanding of the enormity of their deeds and sacrifices."  said Raffi Tachdjian, MD, MPH, AAMS board member and event co-planner. "They reminded us that the ability to affect change, great or small, is within each and everyone of us and that we all share in the responsibility to help make a difference in the world."
 
Fr. Vazken Movsesian, parish priest of the St. Peter Armenian Church in Glendale, California, was the evening's keynote speaker. Fr. Movsesian, who works with the victims of genocide worldwide, began the ceremonies with a message about the transformative power of love in changing victims to victors. The evening's program also included stirring musical and dance performances, including several songs performed by famed Armenian singer Anna Khachatryan, granddaughter of honoree, Dr. Khachatryan. During a cocktail reception, attendees had the opportunity to speak with the family members of the honorees.

In addition, the event featured Camp Darfur, an interactive awareness and educational event that brings attention to the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and gives individuals the opportunity to discover their ability and power to make a difference. This traveling refugee camp raises awareness and examines Sudan's Darfur region and its humanitarian crisis - genocide - by placing it in an historical context with Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, and Rwanda.


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The committee members who planned this event did a tremendous job," said Serineh Melidonian, MD, AAMS president. "Each aspect of the program was thoughtful and lent perspective and meaning to the celebration. We couldn't have asked for a better or more memorable evening."


- The Armenian American Medical Society

 

     NEPO is proud to work with such dedicated and passionate  #physicianleaders


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