On Thursday, November 6, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) hosted a presentation by Dr. H. Martin Deranian and the Armenian Orphan “Sister Rug” at Woodbury University in Burbank, California, reported the Assembly. The event was widely attended by Assembly members and friends from across Southern California.
“It was a great honor for the Assembly’s Southern California Regional Council (SCRC) to host Dr. Deranian,” stated Assembly SCRC Chair Margaret Mgrublian. “The wealth of knowledge he shared coupled with the viewing of the beautiful rug was so telling of the hardships these orphaned children faced, but at the same time, showed the skill they developed in making these exquisite carpets. We thank him for taking the time to travel cross country to share his remarkable research. His determination and passion in keeping alive the amazing legacy of these orphans is the very reason we will have the rug on display in Washington DC. It would have never happened without him,” Mgrublian said.
Dr. Deranian, author of “President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug,” discussed the history of the Armenian Orphan Rug, also known as the “Coolidge Rug,” and how and why orphaned girls of the 1915 Armenian Genocide made the iconic carpet. His story began with World War I and took the audience through the events of 1915. Deranian discussed the historic role of the Near East Relief and Jacob “Papa” Kunzler, and how the Armenian Orphan Rug made its way across the globe and wound up in the White House. His presentation was thought provoking, enlightening, and at several times emotional, especially when he discussed how his mother, Varter, was one of the orphaned girls saved by America’s effort at the time.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) participated in the event and spoke about the Coolidge Rug’s history, particularly the need for U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, the event which led to the rugs creation. Rep. Chu also presented a certificate to Dr. Deranian for his decades-long work on this issue. Talin Sardarbegians from the office of Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) was also in attendance on behalf of the Congressman and spoke about the historic significance of the Coolidge Rug. She also presented a certificate to Dr. Deranian for his efforts to have the Armenian Orphan Rug publicly displayed. Rep. Sherman’s office also presented a U.S. flag that was previously flown over the U.S. Capitol building to the Assembly for raising public awareness of the Armenian Orphan Rug. Mary Hovagimian from the office of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was also in attendance on behalf of the Congressman. She also presented a certificate to Dr. Deranian on behalf of Rep. Schiff.
Assembly Communications Director Taniel Koushakjian provided an update on the status of the Coolidge Rug. Koushakjian discussed how the carpet has been waiting to see the light of day, literally, for decades, why the planned exhibition of the Orphan Rug at the Smithsonian Institution last year was cancelled, and how the Assembly has worked with Members of Congress and the Administration to secure its release. Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny concluded the program and emphasized the historical significance of this treasured artifact, which exemplifies America’s philanthropy at its best as well as the gratitude of the Armenian people.
The White House announced the display of the Armenian Orphan Rug moments after the Assembly’s California event was publicized. The Armenian Orphan Rug will be on public display at the White House Visitor Center, November 18-23, 2014.