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Commentary: The Controversial Tricolor - 1989

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The Controversial Tricolor

Commentary by C.K. Garabed

June 13, 1989

Back in 1964, Democrats gathered in Atlantic City, NJ, for the national convention, and, to celebrate President Johnson’s birthday, ethnic groups were invited to take part in the festivities by performing folk songs and dances in native costume on the boardwalk prior to entering the Convention Hall. The Armenians were represented by the Nayiri Western Armenian Folk Dance Group of New York, fresh from its success at the New York World’s Fair.

When the time came to march into Convention Hall, it was noticed that all ethnic groups were displaying their national flags; all, that is, except the Armenians. Dance group members immediately swung into action. In rapid and enterprising fashion, a staff was procured, as was material for the appropriate colors, needle and thread, and Voila!. There it was, the Yerakouyn!

At that very moment, when the group was to march into the hall, the liaison between the Democratic bigwigs and the dance group, who himself was Armenian, approached the group and requested that the flag not be displayed in the hall for the reason that it was a controversial symbol. His request was denied and the Armenians entered Convention Hall proudly displaying their national emblem.

How the Tricolor came to be controversial, no one can say. Somehow, it became associated with the Tashnagtsagan party instead of the Armenian Republic. Perhaps it started at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago when, having been invited to speak at the Nationalities Exhibit, Archbishop Tourian refrained from speaking until the Armenian National Flag was removed from the podium. Up until recently, there was some apprehension as to how the tricolor would fare under church unity. However, the Armenians of Armenia and their government have dispelled the controversy by embracing the Yerakouyn as a symbol of their national aspirations.

It is to be hoped that the Armenians of America will rally ‘round the flag as an expression of their support for National Unity.