Thursday, April 21, 2016 was a historic day for the Prelacy as friends and supporters gathered to witness the blessing and unveiling of the newly constructed memorial monument dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Centennial. H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, presided over the moving ceremony assisted by clergy, among them H.E. Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian, H.G. Bishop Mikayel Mouradian, Eparch of the Armenian Catholic Church, and Rev. Vatche Ekmekjian representing the Armenian Evangelical Union. Among the guests were the Honorable Valery Mkrtoumian and Mr. Razmig Stepanyan representing the Consulate General of Armenia, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno Mr. Berj Apkarian, Honorable Judge James Kaddo representing the Consul General of Lebanon, ARF-WR chair Mr. Daron Der Khatchadourian, Catholicosate Central and Prelacy Executive Council members, representatives of sister organizations, parish board and ladies members, and Prelacy sponsors. The monument is sponsored by Prelacy and community benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Osko and Yeran Karaghossian
The service began at 6:30 p.m. with the procession of clergy to the monument site as they sang the Easter hymn “Today He is Risen.” Real Property Committee Chair Mr. Vahan Bezdikian delivered welcoming remarks. He noted that the community as a whole pledged last year on the solemn occasion of the Centennial to continue to commemorate the Armenian Genocide and pay tribute to our 1.5 million martyrs each and every year with that same drive, stating that it is as part of that pledge that the Western Prelacy decided to erect the monument as a symbol of remembrance and as hope for tolerance and understanding among all peoples.
The ceremony dedicated to our holy martyrs followed, encompassing Gospel readings and hymns honoring the martyrs of April who gave their lives for faith and nation. Thereafter, the blessing and unveiling was conducted with the participation of Mr. and Mrs. Karaghossian and Executive Council Chair Mr. Vahe Hovaguimian, after which His Eminence delivered his message.
The Prelate greeted the distinguished guests and friends, thanking them all for joining the Prelacy family for the inauguration of the beautiful tribute dedicated to the remembrance of our holy martyrs. His Eminence reflected on the imagery of the monument, stating, “As you see, this memorial is dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. It features the forget-me-not flower symbolizing the past – the inhumanity committed against our people, the present – our resurrection and rebirth, and the future – our continued demand for justice and our ultimate triumph. You see also replicas of the monuments at Dzidzernagapert and Bikfaya, both of which were constructed on the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and placed here as testament that the Diaspora is one with Armenia; we are and will always be inextricably tied to our motherland.”
His Eminence conveyed gratitude to all those who worked hard to bring the vision of the monument to life, namely Real Property Committee members Vahan Bezdikian, Hovsep Boyajian, and Berj Kaprielian, architect Aram Alajajian from Alajajian Marcoosi Architects, sculptor Roman Galstyan, Hovsep Tokat for donating the granite and travertine, Vicken Apelian for landscaping. Above all he thanked the sponsors, Mr. and Mrs. Yeran and Osko Karaghossian, whose generosity made the project possible. The Prelate noted that the support of the Karaghossian family has been vital to a number of the Prelacy’s endeavors and earned them the Catholicosate “Prince of Cilicia” medal. Alongside their $100,000 donation in sponsorship of the monument and crosses bearing the relics of our holy martyrs, the Karaghossian family earlier in the day made an additional donation of $15,000. “May this monument serve as an everlasting reminder of the legacy of our holy martyrs and as a powerful symbol of the resilient spirit of survival so characteristic of the Armenian people,” he stated.
The Prelate also touched upon the historic visit of our two Catholicoi to Artsakh the week prior and their pledge of one million dollars and urged the Prelacy family to contribute generously to the vital fundraising efforts in support of Artsakh.
On behalf of his family, Mr. Osko Karaghossian thanked the guests for sharing the memorable evening with them and thanked the Prelate for creating opportunities for him to serve our church, stating, “Since I was a young boy, my parents taught me to always serve and support my church and the Armenian community. That is why whenever I am presented with the opportunity to give back, I always do my part.”
Judge James Kaddo delivered remarks on behalf of the Consul General of Lebanon the Honorable Johnny Ibrahim and the Lebanese community, affirming the friendship and solidarity of the community with the Armenian people. Judge Kaddo expressed thanks for the opportunity to participate in the inauguration of the monument, which he stated is not only a memorial to the victims of the Armenian Genocide but an affirmation of the resilience, tenacity, and perseverance of the Armenian people who refuse to forget their history and refuse to let the world forget, because a crime against one people is a crime against humanity.
Finally, the Honorable Valery Mkrtoumian spoke on behalf of the Armenian Consulate General, stating, “We are here to pay homage to our martyrs but also to reaffirm our collective commitment to continue our fight for recognition, condemnation, and reparations until we achieve historic justice. Mr. Mkrtoumian highlighted the faith, perseverant spirit, and unity of the Armenian people, which allowed us not only to survive following Turkey’s efforts at annihilation, but to rebuild our nation, today enjoying an independent homeland and a vibrant Diaspora.
The ceremony concluded with the benediction by the Prelate, Cilicia, the Armenian national anthem, and the Lord’s Prayer, after which guests enjoyed a cocktail reception.