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BEDROS: A Story About Survival

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By Mercedes Gechidjian
FLArmenians Miami Contributor

On Friday, March 13, the Armenian Assembly of America’s annual members weekend launched with the presentation of Irene Vosbikian’s book, BEDROS. The novel uncovers the story of Vosbikian’s father-in-law, Bedros Vosbikian, as he travels from the Ottoman Empire to the United States two years before the official outset of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. After marrying her husband, Peter Vosbikian, at a young age Irene spent hours listening to her father-in-law’s recollection of stories about survival, escape, and life as an orphan. Bedros, or the “Armenian Godfather” as the author remembers him, was greatly influential in her life. His stories inspired her to take a deeper look into the atrocities that befell the Armenian people from 1915 to 1923. Her curiosity and sympathy towards the subject resulted in the creation of this haunting story.

Bedros, which the author described as “a historical novel, with a lot of truism and not” was updated in content, and was re-released to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. “It’s about survival and going beyond,” Vosbikian told FLArmenians.com. “It’s a story about growing, bravery, and triumph,” she said. It is for this reason that she decided to add new anecdotes from her father-in-law and stories from other Genocide survivors in the second edition. Copies of the novel were available for purchase with all the revenues dedicated to the Armenian Assembly of America.

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Assembly Board Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian, George Clooney, Assembly Board President Carolyn Mugar at the launch of the 100 Lives Initiative in New York City.

Socializing over hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, guests also heard from Assembly Board of Trustees Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian, who discussed the 100 Lives Project, a new initiative by Vartan Gregorian, Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan to honor the victims of the Armenian Genocide. As stated in the organization’s website, 100 Lives has two goals: to thank those who helped Armenians 100 years ago, as well as continue the legacy and the remembrance of the genocide through the collection of stories. 100 Lives was founded in cooperation with Academy Award Winner, George Clooney’s organization, Not On Our Watch.

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Armenians around the world are taking bold steps to remember and demand the recognition of a genocide that re-shaped the lives of an entire nation.

Armenian Assembly of America Holds Annual Members Weekend in South Florida on Eve of Genocide Centennial

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Last month, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) held its annual Members Meeting in Boca Raton, Florida on March 13-14, 2015. Organized by the Assembly’s South Florida Regional Council (SFRC) Chair Carol Norigian, and Assembly Board of Trustees member Lu Ann Ohanian, the annual members weekend included a two-day program of meetings, receptions, events, and a unique academic symposium on the Armenian Genocide.

The success of the Assembly’s annual members weekend was ensured thanks to the generosity of Gold sponsors Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation, Edele Hovnanian, Harry and Edna Keleshian, Carolyn Mugar, Lu Ann and Bruce Ohanian, Gail and Richard O’Reilly, George Pagoumian, Toros Sahakian, Joyce and Joe Stein, Peter and Irene Vosbikian, Silver sponsors Michael and Marie Haratunian, Mrs. Michael Ohanian, Takouhi and Arshag Tarpinian, and Bronze sponsors George M. Jamgochian, James Kalustian, Oscar Tatosian, and Thomas G. Varbedian, M.D.

The weekend kicked off with a welcome reception on Friday night featuring BEDROS author Irene Vosbikian. Newly elected Assembly Board of Trustees Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian welcomed Assembly members and guests to the annual event. Assembly board member Lu Ann Ohanian introduced Irene Vosbikian and read passages from her book, which details the life of her father-in-law, who survived the Armenian Genocide and made a new life in America. Vosbikian signed copies for guests who purchased the book with all proceeds benefitting the Armenian Assembly of America.

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“The Assembly is thankful to Irene and Peter Vosbikian for their contribution and support,” stated Assembly Board Member Lu Ann Ohanian. “We were moved by the resilience of Bedros Vosbikian in his escape from the Armenian Genocide and his journey to America, and we especially enjoyed hearing Peter and Irene’s story of love, sacrifice, and triumph,” stated Assembly Board Member Lu Ann Ohanian.

On Saturday, Assembly members gathered for the Annual Members and Board of Trustees Meeting. The meeting featured reports from Board of Trustees Co-Chairmen Van Krikorian and Anthony Barsamian, and other board members and staff. During his report, Barsamian discussed the make-up of the newly elected Board of Trustees as well as the program direction the board is setting. Krikorian discussed the Assembly budget and motioned for the passage of a resolution recognizing Hirair and Anna Hovnanian’s decades of dedication and contribution to Armenian Americans and Armenians around the world, which was passed with unanimous consent. Mr. Hovnanian will assume the title of Assembly Chairman Emeritus on May 1, 2015.

“We are honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of guiding the Armenian Assembly in this historic year,” stated Assembly Board of Trustees Chairmen Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian. “Everyone in our organization is working with heightened commitment to ensuring that the centennial events mark a significant step toward US and international affirmation of the Armenian Genocide,” Barsamian and Krikorian said.

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Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny discussed a wide range of Assembly events and activities that have already taken place and are currently planned around the United States. Ardouny illustrated the leadership role of the Assembly on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. He highlighted key individuals involved in centennial activities, such as Assembly Trustee Taleen Yacoubian, a Co-Chair of the West Coast Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee, Assembly Board Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian and Assembly Trustee James Kalustian, who serve as Co-Chairs of the Massachusetts Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee, Assembly Communications Director Taniel Koushakjian, who serves on the executive committee of the South Florida Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee, and Assembly staff in Washington, DC that are involved in the National Armenian Genocide Centennial planning for May 7-9, 2015 in our nation’s capital.

Ardouny also discussed the Assembly’s legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, specifically the introduction of H. Res. 154, the Armenian Truth and Justice Resolution, letters to President Obama from House and Senate legislators, and Assembly testimony before the House Appropriations Committee outlining the Assembly’s nine policy priorities on behalf of the Armenian American community.

Assembly Board of Trustees Treasurer Bianka Kadian-Dodov presented an expanded Assembly operations budget for 2015-2016 which the trustees unanimously approved. Assembly Board of Trustees President Carolyn Mugar briefed members on the activities and role of the Armenia Tree Project. Dr. Rouben Adalian, Director of the Armenian National Institute (ANI), also updated Assembly members, specifically discussing the four digital exhibits produced by ANI that are now available free of charge for the purpose of Armenian Genocide education. Adalian noted that the four exhibits had been downloaded almost 200,000 times, with over three million hits registered annually to the ANI website since the launch of the first exhibit in 2013.

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After lunch, members and guests reconvened for the Assembly’s Armenian Genocide Symposium, entitled “A Century of Genocide: The 1915 Armenian Genocide and Its Lasting Impact.” The symposium featured ANI Director Dr. Rouben Adalian, Dr. Rosanna Gatens, Director of the Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, and Hannibal Travis, Professor of Law at Florida International University College of Law in Miami, Florida. Dr. Adalian presented the topic “The Armenian Genocide as a Prototype of 20th Century Mass Killings.” Dr. Gatens discussed “The Impact of the Armenian Genocide on Holocaust Education,” and Professor Travis presented “The Armenian Genocide as a Political Act and International Crime.” Assembly Board President Carolyn Mugar opened the panel and introduced Assembly Trustee Marta Batmasian who moderated the discussion.

On Saturday night, Assembly members and friends gathered for a delightful cocktail reception where guests discussed their impressions of the Assembly activities from the weekend. Following the reception, attendees enjoyed a wonderful dinner and dancing with live music by Dick Barsamian, Leon Janikian, Mike Gregian, and John Arzigian who performed traditional and contemporary Armenian songs.

“We are grateful to all of our organizers, participants, attendees, and sponsors for making this year’s annual members meeting a resounding success,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

Photographs from the Assembly’s Annual Members Weekend in South Florida are available on the Assembly’s Facebook page here.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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Photo Caption 1: (L-R) Standing: Assembly Board Members Toros Sahakian, Oscar Torosian, Board Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian, Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, Board Co-Chair Van Krikorian; Seated: Board President Carolyn Mugar, Board Treasurer Bianka Kadian-Dodov, Board Member Lu Ann Ohanian, and author Irene Vosbikian.

Photo Caption 2: Guests at the Assembly’s Annual Members Weekend Welcome Reception.

Photo Caption 3: Guests at the Assembly’s Annual Members Weekend Welcome Reception.

Photo Caption 4: (L-R) Dr. Rouben Adalian, Marta Batmasian, Hannibal Travis, Dr. Rosanna Gatens.

(Photographs by Bedo Der-Bedrosian on behalf of the Armenian Assembly of America)

Armenian Assembly Annual Members Meeting Welcome Reception to Feature Author Irene Vosbikian

Annual Members Meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, March 13-14, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) is pleased to announce that Irene Vosbikian, author of the recently released novel BEDROS, will present her book and sign copies at the Assembly’s Annual Member Meeting Welcome Reception in South Florida on Friday, March 13. “We are delighted to have Irene present her book and share this powerful story on the Armenian Genocide,” stated Assembly South Florida Regional Council (SFRC) Chairwoman Carol Norigian.

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BEDROS is the inspirational saga of a man who, having witnessed his father’s murder, goes on to survive the first genocide of the 20th century, and struggles to achieve greatness in the New World. BEDROS is two stories in one because the main character lived two lives in one – the victim struggling to survive and the entrepreneur, struggling to realize himself. Bedros, in this epic novel based on the 1915 Armenian Genocide carried out by the Ottoman Turks, is nourished by hope, defiance, and courage, flowering at last in the streets of Philadelphia. The story spans half a century and three continents. BEDROS is a literary roller coaster. The reader is lulled, electrified, dropped into a pit of despondence and then transported to a world of delight. It is an inspiration to the descendants of all those persecuted immigrants who dreamed and triumphed in America.

Irene VosbikianIrene was born in Philadelphia in 1944, a third-generation Italian American. Her father was killed in WWII, just one month prior to her birth. Her mother remarried and went on to have six more children. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Irene graduated from Marple Newtown High School and attended Temple University where she met her husband, Peter. Peter and Irene have four married children and eleven grandchildren. Irene has published two novels: The Carnation Tablet, a tribute to her father, and BEDROS, based on Peter’s father’s life.

During the Assembly’s Welcome Reception on Friday, March 13, Vosbikian will present her book BEDROS and sign copies for guests who purchase the novel. Vosbikian has generously agreed to donate all of the evening’s proceeds to the Armenian Assembly of America.

“The Assembly is grateful to Irene and the Vosbikian family for their many years of service and support,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny.

The Armenian Assembly’s Annual Member Meeting will be held at the Marriott Hotel at Boca Town Center, 5150 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton, FL 33486. Please call (561) 392-4600 to reserve your room and be sure to mention the Armenian Assembly in order to receive the reduced rate of $169.00 per night.

For tickets or additional information, please contact Assembly SFRC Chair Carol Norigian at southflaaa@gmail.com.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.