PASADENA, CA – With strength and purpose, Hrant Zeitounzian, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, celebrated his 100th birthday with family and friends on January 15, 2010. Zeitounzian marked his centennial as his family reflected on a remarkable life that began in 1910 in Gurin, a city in the Sepastia region of Western Armenia. Along with his mother, brother and sister, Hrant, at the age of five, was exiled from his homeland and sent on a death march. The Pasadena Armenian National Committee participated in the celebration of Hrant Zeitounzian’s life and praised him and his family for being staunch supporters of the Armenian Cause.
“Hrant Zeitounzian is our community’s Mount Ararat,” remarked Pasadena ANC activist Raffi Hamparian. “His life is inspiring. He is not only a genocide survivor, he is a teacher. His life teaches us the value of faith and teaches us the value of dedication to the Armenian Cause. In many ways, he is a living example of the cause the Armenian National Committee of America fights for 365 days a year,” Hamparian added.
For much of his life Hrant Zeitounzian has been involved in efforts to advance the Armenian Cause. As a youth in Lebanon he was very active in the Armenian Youth Federation and has long been a staunch supporter of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Over the past several years he has regularly attended the Armenian National Committee – Western Region’s banquet. Several years ago he received singular praise from U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who cited Zeitounzian as an enduring symbol of the Armenian Cause.
Following his exile from Gurin in 1915, Zeitounzian managed to settle in Beirut, Lebanon after Turkish soldiers started hunting down innocent Armenians in and around Aintab, where his mother had found temporary shelter for her family. After graduating from elementary school, Hrant was reunited with his mother in Aleppo, Syria, where he would later become enrolled in and graduate with high honors from Aleppo College. He would go on to have a successful career at the Iraq Petroleum Company and later at the American Tapline Company in Lebanon. Following his “formal” retirement, the ever-industrious genocide survivor would successfully open a store in Beirut that specialized in selling Kodak cameras, film and supplies.
After enduring Lebanon’s civil war, Hrant Zeitounzian moved to the United States in 1986 with his wife of over sixty years, Osana. Here in the United States he was reunited with his four children, his sons Vahe, Vartan and Kevork and his daughter Haiganoush (Anoush).
The Pasadena ANC will be working with local, state and federal officials over the next several months to ensure that Hrant Zeitounzian’s life is appropriately marked and celebrated.
The Pasadena ANC advocates for the social, economic, cultural, and political rights of the areas Armenian American community and promotes increased Armenian American civic participation at the grassroots and public policy levels.