WASHINGTON, D.C. -On Friday, June 24, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) celebrated the Voice of America's (VOA) 65th anniversary of Armenian service programming, which first aired on June 24, 1951.
"During the Soviet era, VOA served as a source of light for Armenians and as a valuable and reliable source of information. Jirair Haratunian, a former Deputy Director of VOA and long-time and prominent member of the Armenian Assembly's board, said that the VOA works best when it boldly reports on developments in American society, including the good and the bad, and adheres to the standards of American journalism," Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny said. "This is no small accomplishment and it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of VOA's staff, day in and day out...I think that it goes without saying that everyone gathered here today respects VOA's work and looks forward to celebrating more milestones in the years ahead," he added.
Alongside the Assembly, Armenia's Ambassador to the United States Grigor Hovhanissian, the first VOA Armenian Service Chief and former State Department official Edward Alexander, representatives of the Armenian diaspora, and former staff members joined VOA Director Amanda Bennett in honoring the service as a prominent source of news for Armenian speakers around the globe.
"Its role today is as vital as it has ever been during the past 65 years," noted VOA Director Amanda Bennett, who emphasized the need to counter disinformation and anti-American propaganda. "VOA Armenian has been and continues to be a fair and objective source of news that Armenia and the rest of the world can trust."
During the celebration, Ambassador Hovhannissian read a statement from Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who called VOA Armenian Service "a special bridge" which links Armenia with the United States.
U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, who is currently in Armenia, sent a video message for the ceremony. "The Armenian people benefit when they have access to voices from around the world that represent a full range of viewpoints and ideas. VOA plays an important part in bringing Armenians those viewpoints and ideas," Ambassador Mills said.
Other speakers included VOA Armenian Service Acting Chief Vivian Chakarian, VOA Armenian Service Reporters Aram Vanetsyan and Inesa Mkhitaryan, former VOA Deputy Director Alan Heil, former VOA Armenian Service Chief Araxie Vann, and Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
Nadya Movsisyan, an Assembly Summer intern who just arrived from oversees last week, was grateful to be able to attend the event as well and learning more about VOA.
"On only my second day of the Armenian Assembly internship, I was invited to go to an event honoring such a great, unbiased news source. I'm amazed with its dedication to the Armenian community," Movsisyan said.
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 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.