In what is believed to be an historic first—at least in America—a genocide monument with an imposing cross will be unveiled by a municipal complex.
The unique event will take place Saturday, May 10, by Lowell City Hall, site of many a genocide commemoration in the past by the Armenian National Committee of America, the Armenian Weekly reorts.
The 6-foot structure will take its place to the immediate right of the building’s entrance by the flagpole as the Armenian Tricolor is hoisted and national anthems are being sung in both Armenian and American during a prayer service.
It’s the culmination of two years’ work by the Armenian Genocide Monument Committee of Merrimack Valley, capped by a $35,000 fund-raising effort by members of surrounding churches and organizations.
A $15,000 endowment is currently being raised for the perpetual care of the site, which was graciously donated by the city.
Titled “A Mother’s Hands,” the unveiling coincides auspiciously with Mother’s Day weekend, expecting to draw hundreds from around the state and New England, including a number of government officials.
“What was once a dream has become reality for Armenians throughout the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire,” said Chairman Armen Jeknavorian. “The day will mark a very emotional and inspiring moment, not only for the 1.5 million victims of 1915, but for generations who’ve followed and established our different communities.”
Among them, of course, is Lowell, a prominent mill city cultivated by immigrants who toiled the sweat shops and raised their families with resilience.
“We owe them all a debt of allegiance,” added Jeknavorian. “This monument will remain a gesture of gratitude for all they’ve done to preserve and advance our precious history.”
The project was launched by former Mayor James Milinazzo, now a City Councilor, who agreed to plans and even designated the spot inside an area known as Monument Park.
The Armenian memorial will take its place among other stones reflecting the homage of various other ethnic groups who inhabit the city.
The design is the brainchild of Chelmsford artist Daniel Varoujan Hejinian whose inscription of “A Mother’s Hands” forms the base. Over the past 18 years, Hejinian has designed and financed the erection of three genocide billboards throughout Greater Boston and created a number of religious icons in various churches.
A 3-dimensional motif featuring a mother’s hands crocheting lace protrudes from the “khatchkar” (cross stone) which serves as an immediate eye-catcher. At the base are the Armenian words “EE Hish-a-dag” or “In Remembrance.” The stone measures six feet high and three feet wide and was constructed by Skylight Studios in Woburn.
“The delicacy of the crochet integrated into the cross stone symbolizes the steadfast richness of the Armenian heritage that has sustained our ancient people for centuries,” said Hejinian. “Knot by knot, the Armenian people everywhere weave their hopes and dreams as they grow and prosper. This expression of ‘weaving’ echoes the Armenian national theme.”