STOCKTON–Marking the eleventh day of their 19-day trek towards Sacramento–those participating in the March For Humanity–passed the 150-mile point of their 215 mile march–arriving in Stockton on Wednesday.
Revitalized by expert alternative medicine–the marchers–ranging in age from 16 to 63–eat from a mobile lunch truck–shower in an RV–and sleep in church halls.
"When I first heard about the March For Humanity–I knew that I wanted to walk the full distance," said Sanan Shirinian–a 16-year-old high school junior. "I was often questioned about my ability to walk the full 215 miles–but I knew that this was the least I can do to seek recognition for the murder of my ancestors 90 years ago."
Beginning each day by telling a story of a family member who survived the genocide–the self-sacrificing youth walk an average of 12 to 15 miles each day–at times braving heavy rain and forceful winds.
The walkers have experienced serious aches and sores in their feet and legs. Inspired by the huge task undertaken by the dedicated group–Dr. Shahe Jierian–an expert in holistic and natural medicine–provided the walkers with massage utilizing acupressure to relax and heal pulled muscles and strained feet.
"I believe in the cause of the marchers?I myself lost family members to the Genocide," said Jierian. "I have a God given talent and this is the least I can do for those who volunteered to sacrifice a part of themselves. After all–holistic medicine and the well being of human beings–humanity–go hand in hand."
Jierian–whose grandmother is a 97-year-old survivor of the Genocide–also walked more than 40 miles with the marchers to show his solidarity with the victims of the Armenian genocide.
Defying sore muscles–blistered feet–and aching legs–the marchers will continue to walk an additional 70 miles–rain or shine–until they arrive at the California State Capitol on April 21 and join a mass rally to thank the California State Legislature and those of 36 other state legislatures for officially recognizing the Armenian genocide.
In honor of Pope John Paul II–the marchers held a candle light vigil on the ninth day and 130th mile of their walk. "Pope John Paul II was a peace-loving man. He visited Armenia and condemned act of genocide committed against the Armenian people," said Vicken Sosikian–March For Humanity director. "His virtues and ideals guided millions across the world and helps guide us in our quest for justice."
Commending the marchers’ genuine efforts and determination to bring Genocide recognition to a new level–Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western Region Central Committee Representative–Hovig Saliba–concluded the vigil by reassuring them that their efforts will reinforce Armenian communities’ worldwide to continuously pursue the goal until it is achieved.