FRESNO — Thursday April 23 will mark a historic occasion for Central San Joaquin Valley Armenians when a monument dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide will be unveiled at Fresno State. The program begins at 7:30pm in the Maple Mall, located just south of the university’s Satellite Student Union.
The monument has been made possible by the generosity of numerous patrons as well as the cooperation of Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro, whose public initiative and commitment to diversity paved the way for constructing the memorial on the university campus. The unveiling ceremony is organized by the Armenian Genocide Centennial—Fresno Committee, an association of local organizations that is undertaking and promoting a series of events and activities in the Central Valley.
“We are fortunate as a generation to witness the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. It is our responsibility to pass the torch to the future generation to never forget man’s inhumanity to man.” said Berj K. Apkarian, Chairman of the Monument Committee of AGC—Fresno and Fresno’s Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia
Designed by Fresno architect Paul Halajian, the monument will embody symbols of cultural meaning to the Armenian people. Its principal components, a series of pillars, will be arranged in a circular pattern and angled inwards, reminiscent of the Armenian Martyrs Monument (Tzitzernagapert) in Armenia. Built from béton brut and Tufa stones, the nine pillars represent the six provinces of historic Western Armenia—Van, Bitlis, Dikranagerd, Kharpert, Sepastia, and Erzerum—Cilicia, the Diaspora, and the Republic of Armenia. They will gradually descend in height around the circle, with the first measuring 19 feet high and the last 15 feet to underscore the significance of the year 1915. An incomplete halo will be set above on top of the pillars, symbolizing both the fracture left by the Genocide and the unity of the Armenian people.
“The monument will serve not only as a symbol of the terrible tragedy of the Armenian Genocide, but also as a tool to educate future generations of Fresno and California residents, regardless of ethnic background,” said Dr. Sergio La Porta, President of the AGC—Fresno and Professor of Armenian Studies at Fresno State. “The lessons of the Armenian Genocide strike at the heart of who we are as a species; they alert us to the perils of modernity which we often ignore, confident in our scientific and technological progress; and they remind us of the importance of being human, first and foremost.”
Along with the monument, the AGC—Fresno has organized and promoted numerous centennial events, including 1915-2015: Tradition/Legacy/Culture, a commemorative art exhibit at the Fresno Art Museum and a Town Hall Meeting at Saroyan Theater discussing topics related to the Armenian Genocide as well as numerous educational lectures and programs.
Free parking will be available for the unveiling ceremony in Lots P5 and P6 near the Peters Business Building. Handicapped parking is available as well in the same lots. Free overflow parking will also be available in the Save Mart Center parking lot.
The AGC—Fresno comprises representatives from various social, educational, and political organizations of the Central Valley that are working together to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. For more information about centennial events, visit the AGC—Fresno website at www.agcfresno.org and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/agcfresno.