As the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide approaches in 2015, the Armenian community of Fresno has come together to commemorate this solemn occasion. Although a century has passed since the Genocide took place, it continues to loom large in the Armenian conscious.
With this in mind, Fresno’s Armenian community, under the auspices of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee (AGC), has united to plan the construction of an Armenian Genocide Monument on the Fresno State campus, to be inaugurated on April 24, 2015.
The AGC is an umbrella association of representatives from the area’s religious, educational, social, and political organizations, working together to commemorate and raise awareness about the Genocide on its 100th anniversary. The centerpiece of their activities is the planned Genocide Monument.
The Armenian Genocide took place in 1915 as the Ottoman Empire tried to eliminate its Armenian population. The lives of 1.5 million Armenians were tragically snuffed out during an event which would forever leave its mark on this ancient people. It is crucial for Armenians to remember those who died and seek to educate those who are ignorant of this massacre. To do so is not only to honor the memory of those who were lost, but to help ensure that similar tragedies do not take place.
Architect Paul Halajian designed the Monument to embody the goals of the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee. The Monument consists of nine pillars arranged in a circular formation, which represent the unity between Armenia, the six historic provinces lost during the Genocide, Cilicia, and the Diaspora.
The first entry pillar is 19 feet high and the pillars progressively descend in height until the final pillar at 15 feet-1915-signifying the year that the Genocide began.
A semi-helical stainless steel “halo” will rest upon the entire composition, signifying the fracture that took place within the Armenian experience and to humanity as a whole as a result of Genocide. Art pieces representing pivotal moments in Armenian history will adorn each column, collectively composing a timeline of Armenian history. The monument will be placed in a central location, the Maple Mall, on Fresno State’s campus. It is a strategic location which will further the Armenian community’s goal of bringing awareness to this issue.
“I originally proposed having this monument at Fresno State because of the visibility it would have in our community,” explained Armenian Studies Program Coordinator, Prof. Barlow Der Mugrdechian.
“We felt that this Monument would have a permanent presence in future generations, and what better place to have it than where the young generations will be able to see and learn from it?”
“Placing the Monument at Fresno State is an excellent way to both increase awareness about the Genocide as well as to commemorate the incredible contributions of the Armenian community to the Central Valley,” said AGC Chairman, Dr. Sergio La Porta. “The central location of the Monument and its size insure that thousands of people—students, faculty, and visitors—will see the Monument and will engage with it. As people interact with the Monument, they will gain greater exposure to and understanding of the historical experience of the Armenian people and the tragedy of Genocide.”
“In order to make this Monument happen required the help, work, and dedication of many people,” said Dr. La Porta. “From the beginning, there has been an outpouring of support from the Armenian community and the Monument stands as a testament to the community’s unity and strength. It is a memorial and legacy that everyone will feel proud to have been a part of and which future generations will be inspired by.”
The Genocide Monument groundbreaking will take place at 2:30PM on Sunday, November 2, and will be attended by civic and religious leaders. Fresno State President Joseph Castro will participate in the ceremony.
For more information visit the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee’s website at http://agcfresno.org/ for a complete list of its upcoming activities and plans for 2015.
The AGC can be contacted through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/agcfresno.