PASADENA, CA – A broad and diverse standing room only crowd of Armenian Americans recently attended a program highlighting an exhibit commissioned by the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) regarding the heroic service of the Armenian Legion in World War I. The program, entitled “Forgotten Heroes – The Armenian Legion and the Great War,” was held at the Pasadena Central Library on Sunday, January 3, 2010. The program was sponsored by ALMA, the Armenian Rights Council of America and the Pasadena Armenian National Committee and supported by the Pasadena Armenian Youth Federation “Nigol Touman” Chapter.
Former Pasadena Mayor Bill Paparian served as the master of ceremonies for the program honoring those Armenians, many from America, who served in the Armenian Legion early in the twentieth century. Former Pasadena Deputy City Manager Ed Aghjayan, whose father served as an Armenian Legion member, served as the program’s keynote speaker. Speaking on behalf of the Armenian Rights Council of America was Dr. Raffi Balian. On behalf of the Armenian National Committee, Pasadena Chapter, Chairmen Raffi Hamparian delivered his remarks to the present guest and presented awards to both the Pasadena Central Library and ALMA for their central role in bringing the “Forgotten Heroes – The Armenian Legion and the Great War” exhibit to the City of Pasadena.
“Our AYF chapter was proud to learn more about the heroic Armenian Americans who served in the Armenian Legion,” remarked Pasadena AYF “Nigol Touman” Executive member Berj Parseghian after the program. “The shared history of sacrifice Armenian Legion members displayed made a strong impact on the 20 AYF members who came to today’s program. We are proud to have been part of this program and glad that many of our AYF members were able to make the exhibit a teachable moment.” Parseghian added.
“The Pasadena ANC is proud to have supported ALMA’s exhibit highlighting the Armenian Legion,” stated Ishkhan Boghossian, the Executive Director of the Pasadena Armenian National Committee. “We salute all the community groups and members who joined with Bill Paparian, Ed Aghjayan and the Pasadena Central Library in hosting a truly wonderful event that drew a standing room only crowd to the library’s Wright Auditorium,” Boghossian added.
The Armenian Legion was created during World War I to support Allied forces in their war against Turkey, Austria and Germany. Many Armenian Americans, including individuals from southern California, proudly served in the Armenian Legion. According to the ALMA exhibit, Armenian Legion recruits from the United States were shipped from New York to Marseille, France and then to a training ground in Monarka, Cyprus. From there the Armenian Legion fought in a number of decisive battles in World War I under the command of British General Edmund Allenby. Despite their bravery, Allied forces ultimately betrayed the Armenian Legion by accommodating the demands of Turkish nationalists at the end of World War I.
The ALMA exhibit on the Armenian Legion was originally produced in 2001. Due to overwhelming demand, a traveling version of the exhibit was created and has been shown at various venues throughout the United States. The exhibit was made possible through a generous grant from the K. George and Carolann S. Najarian Foundation, with additional support by the Armenian American Veterans of Milford, Massachusetts.
The Pasadena ANC advocates for 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.