Members of the Armenian community gathered to demand justice during a somber reflection at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument in Montebello on Thursday honoring the 1.5 million lives lost during the genocide 100 yers ago, Pasadena Star-News reports.
Armenians from all walks of life came together in the shadow of the first and largest Armenian genocide martyrs memorial on public land to demand recognition of the genocide and remember the dead, but also to proclaim that the genocide was a failure, and the Armenian culture is alive and flourishing.
Among the multitude of dignitaries who spoke at or attended the vigil was Congresswoman Judy Chu, D-Pasadena.
“It is so important for us to gather here, right here in the San Gabriel Valley, in Montebello, to celebrate this 100th anniversary,” Chu said.
At the forefront of the minds of many attendees was the lack of formal recognition of the genocide, both by the Turkish and U.S. Governments.
Though disappointed that the administration has yet to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of 1915, “We will not give up our effort in Washington D.C. to make sure that finally those that died will not have done so in vain, and that this genocide will be remembered.”
Montebello Mayor Jack Hadjinian, the grandson of an Armenian Genocide survivor, said he struggled to contain his emotions as he assisted in preparations for the event.
He thanked two Turkish soldiers who spared his grandfather’s life after mistaking him for a boy, rather than a young man. “That man’s grandchild became the mayor of this city,” Hadjinian said to a roar of applause.
Attendees left flowers at the base of the towering monument. Parents explained the significance of the structure and the ceremony to their children.
Keynote speakers for the event, hosted by the San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America, included renowned attorney Mark Geragos and Hayg Oshagan, a professor of Communications at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich. Performers including singer and songwriter Sebu Simonian of the group Capital Cities entertained the crowd.
Additional commemorations of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will continue in the area this weekend. Tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in a 6-mile march from Little Armenia to the Turkish Consulate in The Wilshire District organized by the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee-Western United States of America. The Los Angeles United Armenian Council for the Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide will hold a commemoration ceremony at noon Saturday at the Montebello monument, 901 Via San Clemente.