BURBANK—More than 100 Burbank residents, students, government officials/representatives attended the first Burbank “Candlelight Walk Against Persecution and Genocide” on December 8. Participants walked from the steps of Burbank City Hall to the Colony theatre company to protest against persecution and genocide.
The event was hosted by the Southern California chapter of the Kindertransport Association. The Kindertransport was a rescue effort before the start of World War II that saved the lives of about 10,000 children, most of them Jewish, from countries occupied by the Nazis.
The program at the Colony Theatre featured Rachel Rubin Green celebrating Kindertransport, David Meyerhof celebrating Holocaust Rescuer Varian Fry, Michael Soehner and Bev Weise presenting ongoing rescue activities in the current refugee crisis and Burbank Unified School District Board of Education Clerk, Dr. Armond Aghakhanian.
Dr. Aghakhanian spoke about Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region’s initiative “America We Thank You: An Armenian Tribute to Near East Relief,” which is a movement to recognize the outpouring of generosity by the American people from the onset of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923) and for 15 consecutive years, and to highlight the efforts of Near East Relief in rescuing and providing assistance to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who were victims of the Genocide.
“Tonight, our Burbank community came together to give thanks to programs like Near East Relief, Kindertransport, and other rescue programs currently happening in the world. The event shed light on our current global refugee crisis, a matter which is very personal to me since I am a former refugee. Throughout this event I was able to not only share my story but also to thank the generosity of the American People and U.S. government for rescuing not only my family and I, but also hundreds of thousands of orphans and millions of refugees of the Armenian Nation,” said Dr. Aghakhanian during his remarks.
“The story of Near East Relief serves as an indisputable nexus between U.S. history and the Armenian Genocide, yet it receives very little attention in the public arena. The ANCA Western Region’s tribute is a way to express gratitude to the American people and government for rescuing the Armenian Nation from total annihilation. We welcome inclusion of this incredible story in all events commemorating any genocide as a shining example of man’s humanity in the face of evil, and are gratified that its lessons were acknowledged at Burbank’s deeply moving Candlelight Walk Against Persecution and Genocide,” said ANCA-WR Chairperson Nora Hovsepian.
The event was attended by Burbank City Vice Mayor, Emily Gabel-Luddy, Councilmember Bob Frutos, Burbank Unified School District Board member, Steve Frintner, CA State Senator Anthony Portantino representative Arda Tchakian, CA State Assemblymember Laura Friedman representative Blake Dellinger, Former Mayor of Burbank, Marsha Ramos and members and representatives from ANCA Burbank.