LAS VEGAS—On Saturday, November 14, Armenians from Las Vegas and beyond gathered at Sunset Park for the unveiling and dedication of a monument that pays tribute to the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide.
The monument project was erected by the initiative of the Armenian-American Cultural Society (AACS) of Las Vegas, with the participation of all Las Vegas Armenian churches and organizations, and by the approval of the Clark County Commission.
In her opening remarks, Master of Ceremonies Lenna Hovanessian described the AACS initiative and efforts to bring this project to fruition, which was originally conceived almost 10 years ago. She then invited Western Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian and Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, to deliver the invocation and their message. The Archbishops asked the guests to rise in observance of a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris a day earlier.
Valery Mkrtumian, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles, conveyed his message and congratulated the Armenian-American community of Las Vegas for their collective efforts in achieving this dream.
Clark County Commissioner Mary Beth Scow, in whose district Sunset Park lies, stated that although the Armenian community is funding the monument project, “the entire Las Vegas community benefits because this monument allows our citizens to come to know and learn about this very sordid and shocking chapter in world history. I’m happy that the County could partner with the Armenian community to bring this project to fruition.” Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani was also in attendance.
Congressman Dr. Joe Heck and Congresswoman Dina Titus both recognized this milestone and congratulated the AACS and the Armenian community for their achievement.
At the end of the ceremony Congressman Heck quoted “it was a humbling experience to join with members of the Armenian community to dedicate the Las Vegas Armenian Genocide monument. I applaud the work of the Armenian-American Cultural Society of Las Vegas in bringing this monument of remembrance to our city. I urge all Nevadans to use this monument and the memory of the unspeakable atrocities it commemorates as a lesson for the future: that we must not allow acts of intolerance and genocide to be committed and we must stand ready to stop those who would perpetrate such acts.”
Congresswoman Titus quoted “it was an honor to participate in the unveiling and dedication of this monument commemorating the memory of the 1.5 million Armenians murdered by the Turks and celebrating the life of the Armenian community in Southern Nevada. This beautiful monument will stand as a reminder to never forget the Genocide and as an inspiration to pursue tolerance and understanding throughout the world.”
Nevada Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman also addressed the gathering and presented a letter of commendation to the AACS. Christina Martinez represented U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and provided a copy of the U.S. Congressional Record that was read by Senator Reid on the Senate floor on the occasion of the Armenian Genocide Centennial on April 23, 2015, which has become part of the U.S. Senate records.
Senator Dean Heller, Congressman Cresent Hardy, and City of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman were represented respectively by Stephen Sifuentes, Arianni Valencia and Gayle Anderson, all of whom presented letters of commendation.
Nevada Consular Corps members were also invited and Honorary Consuls from the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, Lithuania, Romania, Monaco, and Chile were all in attendance.
Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak had commented earlier “I applaud the Armenian community for bringing this project to fruition and Clark County is proud to lend its support. The unspeakable acts endured by the Armenian people must never be forgotten. This memorial will help ensure that happens and assists in educating future generations.”
Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Las Vegas, Adroushan Andy Armenian said, “Today the Armenian-American community in Las Vegas is donating this memorial monument at Sunset Park to the people of Southern Nevada so that new generations remember the tragic history in order not to repeat such terrible acts in the future.”
Additionally, all major Middle Eastern churches were represented by their respective clergy. Attending were the Lebanese Maronite Church, Coptic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Assyrian Church, Ethiopian Church, Antiochian Orthodox Church, in addition to the Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Evangelical Churches.
Invitations were sent to Los Angeles Armenian organizations and several were present, among them the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee represented by its Chairman Dr. Viken Hovsepian, ARS Western US Regional Executive represented by Chairwoman Rebecca Berberian, Hunchagian Party represented by George Hagopyan, and Homenetmen Western Region Executive Committee represented by Aram Yeremian.
The unveiling ceremony started with a flags presentation by Homenetmen Artsakh Chapter Scouts and the national anthems of Armenia and USA were performed by Miss Maral Saccoyan. There were two national dance performances by members of the Armenian Dance Academy of Las Vegas and Armenian Dance School of Las Vegas.
At the conclusion of the official program, MC Lenna Hovanessian asked the clergy, dignitaries, and the public to follow the procession led by Homenetmen flag bearers to the monument site.
Clark County Commissioner Scow, Congressman Dr. Joe Heck and Congresswoman Diana Titus accompanied Archbishops Derderian and Mardirossian and the AACS Board of Directors in unveiling the boulder that contained the memorial plaque which reads;
“The Las Vegas Valley has offered hope and opportunity to those seeking to begin new lives. This memorial is a gift to the people of southern Nevada from the Armenian-American community. It is offered in honor of the one and one half million victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. May it stand in remembrance of all genocides that have followed, and celebrate the diversity of the communities that have re-formed in this oasis in the desert.”
Next the MC invited local organization representatives and key donors to unveil the 12 columns of the monument. The large veil was dropped, exposing the main portion of the monument to great applause.
The third stage was the unveiling of the monument’s center which contains the “Eternity Circle” sponsored by MaryRose Simon. Archbishops Derderian and Mardirossian accompanied by Reverends Matarian and Kassabian then blessed the monument with the Lord’s prayer.
The ceremony concluded with carnations being placed at the “Eternity Circle” by ARS Shoushi Chapter Saturday School Students, Saturday School students from the Armenian Apostolic Church, dancers from the Armenian Dance Academy and Armenian Dance School, Homenetmen scouts, and members of ACYO. Thereafter the monument was open to the attending public to visit and pay tribute to the genocide victims.