PASADENA — On the evening of Friday, October 20, 2023, the Armenian community of Pasadena and the greater San Gabriel Valley came together in a momentous gathering of unity, compassion, and remembrance. Organized as a vigil, march, and rally, the event aimed to express unwavering support for Artsakh and its people in the face of the numerous challenges they have encountered.

Artsakh, a region deeply embedded in the historical and cultural tapestry of the Armenian people for over three millennia, has tragically been marked by conflict and strife in recent years. The Azerbaijani dictatorships’ policy of ethnic cleansing against the Armenian population in the region has left a painful legacy. In Southern California, the Armenian community has been closely monitoring the developments in Artsakh and Armenia. As a consequence of Azerbaijan’s aggression, countless Armenian families have been forcibly displaced from their homes and communities. Today, the entire population of Artsakh has been compelled to abandon their homes due to the ravages of war and aggression by Azerbaijan. In Southern California, the Armenian community has been closely monitoring the developments in Artsakh and Armenia. The vigil, march, and rally were organized to shed light on their plight and the urgent need for humanitarian aid.

The event was anchored by two distinguished mistresses of ceremonies, Sona Movsessian and Jill Simonian. Both speakers conveyed heartfelt personal messages, underscoring the importance of preserving Armenian culture, language, and community unity as a source of hope during these challenging times.

The vigil began at Pasadena’s Memorial Park Armenian Genocide Memorial, a place of immense historical significance for Armenians. The event at this solemn location concluded with a requiem service, in the presence of Pasadena-based Armenian clergy. This service paid tribute to the memory of those who have suffered and perished due to Azeri aggression.

Following the vigil, the Pasadena chapters of Homenetmen and AGBU scouts led hundreds of attendees in a march through Old Town Pasadena, a symbolic journey toward Pasadena’s City Hall in Centennial Square.

At Centennial Square, Armenian school children from both private and public schools took the stage to recite the national anthems of the United States and Armenia. This display of national pride and unity was a touching moment during the event.

Vache Sevajian, representing the organizing committee, delivered a keynote message in Armenian, emphasizing the tragic fact that, for the first time in over three millennia of recorded history, the Armenian population of Artsakh has been displaced and is no more. He highlighted the international community’s silence in the face of these terroristic acts, yet underscored the Armenian people’s resilience and determination to remain united, vigilant and hopeful.

Aleksan Giragosian, also representing the organizing committee, delivered a keynote message in English. He provided context for the rally and its purpose, emphasizing that the Pasadena Armenian community stands in solidarity with Artsakh and its refugees. He called for the release of Armenian prisoners of war and civilians unlawfully detained by the Azerbaijani dictatorship. He urged support for the 120,000 displaced Armenian refugees from Artsakh and extended a charitable hand to those in dire need. He also emphasized that the sacrifices made by Armenian soldiers defending their homeland will not be forgotten.

The event culminated with Alique Bardakian reading the names of captured civilians and remembering those missing in action. Daron Koroghlyan and Nareg Masaredjian followed, reading the names of prisoners of war. All three speakers underscored the enduring commitment to remember these individuals and made it clear that they are not forgotten. This powerful conclusion served as a reminder of the ongoing challenges and the importance of unity.

In the heart of Pasadena, this vigil, march, and rally exemplified the resilience and unity of the Armenian community in the face of adversity. The gathering, underpinned by deep cultural ties and unwavering support, sent a clear message of solidarity for Artsakh and its people, reiterating the community’s commitment to remembrance, compassion, and hope.

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