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Goodbye, My Friend: A Tribute to Dr. H. Martin Deranian

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Dr. H. Martin Deranian

By Jack Danielian
FLArmenians Guest Columnist

It is so difficult to accept the loss of Dr. Martin Deranian. He was a close and enduring friend of mine. After 40 years of deep talk about Armenians and the Armenian Genocide, our relationship opened up difficult areas layer by layer of our inner responses to the family trauma we inherited. Over many years we began to see the true intergenerational repercussions of Genocide. Martin, my friend, you never gave up on yourself or on me. How can I thank you?

Martin and I had many commonalities in our personalities and our cultural backgrounds. We were both products of proud residents of Hussenig, people who had deep roots in their soil and treasured their village life. The following (Deranian, 1994) are an Elegy and Lamentation by Hussenig survivors:

An Elegy

Alas, my beautiful village is now in ruins,

And I am deprived of seeing it ever again.

I have shouldered the burden of old age,

As I sit beneath the sky of a foreign land,

I sing your praises each day with gladness.

I only wish I had a handful of your soil.

A Lamentation

I remember thee day and night.

I will give all that I have for the sight of your mountains.

There is no other place like it anywhere in the world.

Hussenig is the name of my birthplace.

I do not have a precious gift to offer thee,

Except to keep your glorious memory alive in me.

These memories drawn from an abyss speak to an incalculable loss. The abyss could not be assimilated. Martin and I could do nothing but stand by and try to touch it. Yet, taking it in bit by bit we opened ourselves to the chaotic void it created for our ancestors and of course in the process exposed ourselves emotionally to the vulnerabilities laid bare. Such is the intergenerational nature of Genocide.

I have only shared with you a few treasured interactions with Martin over 40 years. But Dr. H. Martin Deranian was a true gift to all Armenians (and of course to non-Armenians) as well. He was a pioneer in his investigations of valuable Armenian history as it interacted with the Western world. He brought President Calvin Coolidge & The Armenian Orphan Rug to worldwide attention in 2013 and 2014.

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(L-R): Armenian National Institute Director Dr. Rouben Adalian, Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, Florida Armenians Founder Taniel Koushakjian, Dr. H. Martin Deranian holding his book ‘President Calvin Coolidge & the Armenian Orphan Rug,’ Ambassador of Armenia to the U.S. Tigran Sargsyan at the official unveiling of the Armenian Orphan Rug at the White House Visitors Center, Washington, D.C. on November 18, 2014.

Martin was a courageous man. For most of us watching his ever-deepening involvement with the Armenian Genocide, his most incredible undertaking was plunging headlong into his dear mother Varter’s unfathomable suffering in Anatolia. I will not go into the suffering of Varter in this remembrance except to say that her Anatolian oppressors engaged in heartbreaking treachery to force Varter’s children to be abandoned in a dry well. Of course these were Martin’s half-siblings as well. In 1980 Dr. Deranian published in Ararat Quarterly the full harrowing tale of “The Wailing Well” and the piece was republished in 1994 by the Armenian Heritage Press.

The story of Varter also became the centerpiece of a play by Martin’s long-time friend, playwright Joyce Van Dyke, first produced by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre in association with Suffolk University. The utterly personal nature of the play is brought home by Joyce calling Dr. Deranian the “godfather of the play” and by the fact that Joyce herself is a descendant of Armenian Genocide survivors, her grandmother a witness to the massacres, and Varter’s life-validating friend.

Jack Danielian PhD, is a psychologist and psychoanalyst, and dean of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis. Dr. Danielian is a friend of FLArmenians and has given his expressed written consent to publish his tribute, which originally appeared in the Armenian Mirror Spectator.

The obituary detailing the life of Dr. H. Martin Deranian is available here.

Armenian Assembly of America 2014 Annual Trustees Meeting & Banquet in Boca Raton

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Armenian Assembly of America Annual Trustees Meeting & Banquet Honoring Former Board Chairman Michael Haratunian March 14-17, 2014

Featuring Author Dr. H. Martin Deranian, Near East Foundation Board Chairman Shant Mardirossian, South Florida Filmmaker Bared Maronian

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) South Florida Regional Council (SFRC) is pleased to announce that the annual trustees meeting and banquet will be held at the Marriott at Boca Center in Boca Raton, Florida March 14-17, 2014. Members, supporters and friends are all invited to a sunny weekend retreat packed with a wonderful lineup of events with past and present leaders of the Assembly and the greater Armenian American community.

A welcome reception will be held Friday evening, bringing together members and friends from across the country. Later, guests are invited to “Kef Night Boca,” an evening of fun, dancing and entertainment presented by local Florida Armenians.

FLArmenians Kef Night Boca 2014

On Saturday, March 15, the Assembly’s annual trustees meeting and luncheon will be held from 9:00AM-12:30PM. Following lunch, the Assembly is delighted to present three distinguished Armenian American community leaders. From Worcester, Massachusetts, Dr. H. Martin Deranian, author of “President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug,” will discuss his recent book and community efforts to have the Coolidge Rug released and displayed in Washington, D.C. Chairman of the board of directors of the Near East Foundation (NEF), Shant Mardirossian, will deliver a compelling presentation on the Armenian Genocide and efforts of the NEF to help save the survivors. Local South Florida filmmaker, Bared Maronian, will provide a presentation and clips of his award-winning film “Orphans of the Genocide,” which has been broadcast by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in several states and featured in Armenian communities across the globe. South Florida is home to some of the genocide survivors featured in the film. The Assembly is privileged to present this diverse panel of speakers to the south Florida community. Presentations will be held from 12:30PM-2:00PM and are free and open to the public.

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Saturday evening, members, supporters and friends are all invited to the Assembly’s annual dinner and banquet, where former chairman of the board, Michael Haratunian, will be officially honored. A participant of the Airlie conferences that established the Armenian Assembly of America in 1972, Haratunian served as a member of the board of directors for several years including four years as chairman. See Michael’s full biography here. The dinner and banquet will feature remarks from Assembly board members, executive director Bryan Ardouny and community leaders.

Members are also invited to the 22nd annual St. David Armenian Church charity golf tournament at the Via Mizner golf and country club in Boca Raton on Monday, March 17. For more information on the golf tournament please click here or call St. David Armenian Church at (561) 994-2335.

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All Assembly events will be held at the Marriott at Boca Center. Major donor packages are available at the following levels: Benefactor ($1,000) receives two complimentary tickets to the banquet; Pillar ($2,500) receives two complimentary tickets to all events including the major donor brunch on Sunday; Torchbearer ($5,000) receives four complimentary tickets to all events including the major donor brunch on Sunday; and Guardian ($10,000) receives eight complimentary tickets to all events including the major donor brunch on Sunday.

Hotel arrangements can be made by calling 1-800-228-9290 or click here to get the special Assembly room rate of only $159.00. To RSVP for the Friday reception or the Saturday luncheon, or to book table reservations for the Saturday evening banquet, please contact Assembly SFRC Chair Carol Norigian at southflaaa@gmail.com.