Thursday, July 18, 2013

Heritage Park ‘Commemorates, Contributes to Entire City’

“Memorials are tricky,” wrote Karen Cord Taylor in “Downtown View” (June 18, 2013). “The most successful examples are, of course, Lincoln’s, Washington’s…The Armenian Genocide Memorial on the Greenway, is another success. I was skeptical…[but] Armenian Heritage Park turned out to be lovely and interesting. It evokes an experience beyond the catastrophe it commemorates. It contributes to the entire city, not to a single group of people.”
Vanderwarker mg 1400 200x300 Heritage Park ‘Commemorates, Contributes to Entire City’
Peter Vanderwarker Photo
Many have visited the Armenian Heritage Park on Boston’s Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway since its unveiling on May 22, 2012. They spend time there, meet family, friends, and colleagues there. The park’s two features—an abstract sculpture (a split dodecahedron resting upon a reflecting pool) and a labyrinth—serve to engage all ages.
This year on the first Sunday in April, the sculpture was reconfigured for the first time. The annual reconfiguration—one of over 20—celebrates the immigrant experience, celebrates those who were pulled away from their country of origin and came to these Massachusetts shores, establishing themselves in new and different ways. The Sculpture is “dedicated to lives lost during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23 and all genocides that have followed”; those words are etched on the base of the reflecting pool upon which the sculpture rests. Its waters wash over its sides and reemerge as a single jet of water at the labyrinth’s center, representing hope and rebirth. The white flowers blooming in late April pay fitting tribute.
On the evening of April 23, a candlelight vigil, hosted by the AGBU Young Professionals with the AYF-YOARF Greater Boston “Nejdeh” Chapter, fittingly commemorated the 98th anniversary of the genocide with poetry, prayer, and song as candles flickered in the rain’s mist.
The labyrinth, an ancient pattern of concentric circles, celebrates life’s journey. The words “Art, Science, Service, and Commerce” are etched around its outer circle in recognition of the accomplishments made.
In collaboration with the Labyrinth Guild of New England, monthly labyrinth walks are held at the park on the third Wednesday of the month from May to October at 7:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.
The park’s labyrinth is the only labyrinth on public land in the northeast. People travel worldwide to walk a labyrinth. “Labyrinth designs have been found on ancient coins, embossed on pottery, etched onto cave walls through the Renaissance,” reported Cheryl Balian Scaparrotta in “Labyrinths Exploring the Path of Life” (WestonWellesley Magazine, Winter 2012/2013), which profiled the Armenian Heritage Park on the Greenway.
World Labyrinth Day, an international initiative of the Labyrinth Society, was held for the first time at the park on Sat., May 1. Each year on the first Saturday of May at 1 p.m., people worldwide “walk as one in peace and harmony.”
Public programs at the park are offered in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Art, Tourism and Special Events, and the Greenway Conservancy with the Friends of Armenian Heritage Park. Corporate walks and meetings at the Park also providing opportunities to engage. Several corporations and the Boston Elderly Commission have been building awareness of the health and team-building benefits of walking a labyrinth. Many have observed that although the park is in the middle of the city, there is a unique sense of quiet and calm felt by the visitors.
Fourth graders from the North End’s Eliot School recently met with the park’s architect/designer to learn about how a geometric shape becomes art, and how the split dodecahedron was constructed and is reconfigured annually.
For Boston By Foot and other walking and bus tours, the park has become a popular destination. During Labor Day weekend, the Armenian Heritage Park will be highlighted in the Boston Arts Festival at Christopher Columbus Park.
On Oct. 24, the fourth annual Najarian Lecture on Human Rights at Faneuil Hall will take place. An endowed public program, the purpose of the endowed series is to advance understanding of human rights issues and societal abuses worldwide, and to increase awareness of the work of individuals and organizations so that we are all more actively engaged. The annual lecture at Faneuil Hall has been inspired by the New England women and men—intellectuals, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders, and citizens—who from 1895-1918 at Faneuil Hall heard the eyewitness accounts of the atrocities taking place against the Armenian minority of the Ottoman Empire, and spoke passionately about the urgent need for intervention. Distinguished Bostonians, among them Julia Ward Howe, Clara Barton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Alice Stone Blackwell, heard these accounts and were moved to assist the Armenians. Philanthropists nationwide raised over $100 million. The American Red Cross launched its first international mission with Clara Barton to bring aid to the Armenians. America’s first international human rights movement was thus launched, as told in author Peter Balakian’s The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response.
The construction of the park and the establishment of its endowed public programs have been made possible because of the commitment of generous supporters. The Armenian Heritage Foundation, sponsor of the park, is comprised of representatives from 42 Armenian-American parishes and organizations within Massachusetts. The foundation has now embarked on the last phase of the campaign to build the endowed fund for the park’s ongoing care and maintenance. That the park be impeccably cared for is critically important. There are several ways to support and participate. Contributions may be made online at or by mail. For a sponsor form with the address, e-mail A few naming opportunities at the park remain. For more information, call James Kalustian (617-899-4309), Charles Guleserian (617-484-6100), or Haig Deranian (617-489-9465). All supporters will be acknowledged in the Commemorative Book.
For more information, visit or e-mail

1 comment:

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