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Honoring the Man

The Armenian National Academy of Sciences marked the 70th birthday and 50th anniversary of public and professional service of the world-renowned UCLA scholar, the talented and devoted Armenian, Richard G. Hovannisian.

Honoring the Man

By Carla Thorson

I am grateful to the generation of sacrifice

Richard Hovannisian, chairholder in Modern Armenian History at the University of California, Los Angeles, a full member of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences, honorable doctor of Yerevan and Stepanakert State universities, decorated by the "St. Sahak-St. Mashtots" medal awarded by the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, the "Cilician Knight" order by Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia, and the Movses Khorenatsi medal of the Republic of Armenia. An Armenian whose name is identified with great accomplishments in the field of Armenian history, with numerous monumental works and invaluable activities to draw the attention of the international community to Armenian history and issues.

On May 27, Armenia's academic elite gathered together to share their heartfelt sentiments with their partner, friend and colleague. Academy president Fadey Sargsian opened the ceremony. "You have always lived and live for the success of our country, and we highly appreciate your contribution to Armenian studies. The arena of your scientific activity is broad. You were the first to create a voluminous monument to the complete history of the First Republic of Armenia. You have contributed to the study of historical Armenian provinces, Armenian public-political ideology, the national quest for liberty, the Armenian Question, and the Armenian Genocide," Mr. Sargsian said.

Academician Vladimir Barkhudarian, Yerevan State University Rector Radik Martirosian, Writers' Union President Levon Ananian, Genocide Institute Director Lavrenti Barseghian, Archbishop Shahe Ajemian, History Institute Director Ashot Melkonyan, Oriental Institute Director Nikolay Hovhannisian, Literature Institute Director Azat Yeghiazarian, Yervand Azadian from the United States, and Harutiun Armenian of the American University of Armenia delivered speeches, expressing their respect for the famous scholar. They referred to his academic activities, and to the name Richard Hovannisian in general. This name will bring up future historians.

It is necessary also to mention the volumes, including "Remembrance and Denial," which examine and summarize significant approaches and attitudes about the Armenian Genocide. Richard Hovannisian is the editor of these books and author of a number of articles on the subject. Professor Hovannisian refuses to debate the reality of the Armenian Genocide, but rather explores the ways of solving the many related problems, taking into account the undeniable facts of history. Over the last several years, Richard Hovannisian has taken an active part in all international and local conferences devoted to the Armenian Genocide held around the world, considering it his duty to present the truth about the Genocide and to inform the public about the Armenian Question in a fact-anchored manner.

Archbishop Shahe Ajemian underlined the value of Hovannisian's activities. "On the occasion of this wonderful day when our intellectuals mark the birthday of our respected professor, I would like to convey the blessing of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. You deserve our admiration because you have devoted all your life to such a huge undertaking. These celebrations prove that that the entire Armenian intelligentsia considers you a unique individual, an extraordinary scholar. I would also like to express my personal opinion, dear Richard. Every time we meet I see this wonderful smile that makes your face radiate. This is the expression of your soul, your knowledge. I hope your invaluable work has indefinite continuation. Do everything you can with devotion. Live long and happy with your sons and daughter, grandchildren, and of course with your books," he said.

Not only words were spoken on this day. The director of the Armenian Genocide Institute and Museum Lavrenti Barseghian gave Richard Hovannisian the Gold Medal named after Fritjof Nansen and awarded by the Nansen International Foundation.

The final words of the day belonged to Professor Hovannisian, "I am grateful for all of your kind words. I have not been to Armenia for three and a half years and I arrived especially at a time that coincides with May 28. It is an important day for us, when the concept of statehood was reestablished after hundreds of years in its absence, and though the state did not survive, it laid down the foundations for Soviet Armenia, which in turn formed the basis for present-day Armenia. I am particularly grateful to the generation of sacrifice which established the First Republic," Dr. Hovannisian stated.