Recently a brochure celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide Martyrs’ Monument in Montebello was sent out soliciting funds for the Monument Council. Rightfully, the cover heralded the words, “Celebrating what was once thought to be impossible.” In the same spirit of celebration we wish to recount some important facts regarding this monument which has served as a rallying point for our entire community during this past half-century.
A group of dedicated Americans of Armenian descent, representing all different aspects of the community, came together in the spirit of unity and organized as the Monument Committee.* After three years of deliberations, planning, developing, organizing, fund-raising and fighting political obstacle, the Armenian Genocide Martyrs’ Monument was unveiled to the waiting public on April 21, 1968. “This monument erected by American of Armenian descent,” says the inscription at its base, “Is dedicated to the 1,500,000 Armenian Victims of the Genocide perpetrated by the Turkish Government, 1915-1921, and to men of all nations who have fallen victim to crimes against humanity.”
Just a few weeks after the opening of the monument, on May 18, 1968, His Holiness Vazken I, of Blessed Memory, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians arrived and blessed the monument and the community. From the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin he brought with him two cross-stones (khatchkars) etched with the words of hope and endurance. These stones came to symbolize the deep link and connection between this Monument in Montebello with the monument in Dzidzernagabert, and with monuments throughout the world ever since.
On that historic day in 1968, at the footsteps of the Monument, the Venerable Catholicos Vazken I, as the spiritual father of all Armenians, addressed his children and the general public. His words were met with thunderous applause and massive gratitude. “From those dark days in 1915, an entire country was destroyed… an entire people were beheaded… but just as Christ rose three days after death, three years after 1915, in 1918 our Independent Armenia was announced.”
We want the records to reflect the entire story. The Armenian Genocide Martyrs’ Monument belongs to us all. It is a monument to the past and at the same time a monument to the power of our united efforts. We celebrate the 50th anniversary with a sense of pride and accomplishment for the God-given gift of perseverance and determination shown by our people. Together, let us “Celebrate what was once thought to be impossible.”
God bless our Armenian Nation and People.
Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate
Western Diocese of the Armenian Church
*The original Monument Committee are recognized on a plaque at the monument: Hagop Abdulian; Hrant Agbabian; Krikor Aivazian; Hagop Arshagouni; Marilyn Arshagouni; Vartan Fundukian; Harmik Hacobian; Richard Hovannisian; Osheen Keshishian; George Mandossian; Hagop Manjikian; Michael Minasian; Vasken Minasian; Bob Movel; Varougan Movsesian; Hagop Nazarian; Misak Sevacherian; Jivan Tabibian
On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, join us in the evening as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Monument at the Srbots Ghevontyants Armenian Cathedral in Burbank. The homilist, Fr. Vazken Movsesian, will share his personal stories of the road to the fruition of the monument and we will honor our original committee members.