MONTEBELLO, CA–Nearly 500 Armenian Americans from the greater Montebello area gathered at the Montebello Armenian Genocide Martyrs Memorial on Friday, April 23rd to commemorate the 95th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide through music and art. The event, hosted by the Armenian National Committee of the San Gabriel Valley (ANC SGV), featured performances by the band ELEMENT, solo artist Raffi Semerjian, a video documentary short film and remarks by Montebello Mayor Bill Molinari as well as a keynote address by former ANC regional board member Raffi Hamparian.
Relating the struggle for recognition to the fight of America’s own founding fathers for self-determination, Hamparian reminded those gathered that it is the steadfast few, who persevere in the face of the overwhelming opposition to these just causes, who win the day.
Mayor Molinari noted that the city would be placing a sign on Garfield Avenue indicating the direction of the memorial and to remind passersby that the monument was a solemn reminder about the Genocide. The mayor was joined by Mayor Pro-tem Art Barajas as well as City Council Members Frank Gomez and Christina Cortez.
The ANC SGV also unveiled a replica of a freeway sign that will be placed on Route 60 directing motorists to the memorial. The sign was a result of a legislative initiative, ACR 148, authored by Montebello-area California State Assembly Member and Majority Leader, Charles Calderon.
The event was emceed by Stepan Altounian who read from his grandfather’s memoirs between the program segments. Near the half-way through evening’s event, the crowd was joined by over 100 members of the Homenetmen Athletics and Scouting organization and supporters from the Armenian Youth Federation who completed their 11 mile walkathon from Pasadena to the memorial. The event closed with a candlelight vigil encircling the monument led by local clergy.
The Armenian National Committee of the San Gabriel Valley advances the social, economic, cultural, and political rights of the area’s Armenian American community and promotes increased Armenian American civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels.