Freeway Sign Directs Public to Montebello Armenian Genocide Monument

By Sandra T. Molina, Writer
Published: 04/01/2011

MONTEBELLO - About 200 people gathered Friday at an unveiling ceremony
for a highway sign that local Armenians called, "historic."

Assembly majority leader Charles Calderon, D-Montebello, uncovered the
directional sign, "Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument," at the
Garfield/Wilcox off-ramp of the Pomona (60) Freeway.

"The sign marks the location of the only memorial in California honoring
the victims and survivors of the Armenian genocide," Calderon said.
"It's not just another freeway sign."

The freeway sign installation was authorized by an act of the state
Legislature, ACR 148, which was authored by Calderon and adopted in
2010.

It authorized the California Department of Transportation to erect signs
on the 60 Freeway directing motorists to the Armenian Genocide Martyrs
Monument at Bicknell Park, 901 Via San Clemente.

The monument, under strong opposition from state and federal entities,
including the U.S. State Department, was approved by the Montebello City
Council in 1965.

It symbolized the first genocide of the 20th century and is in memory of
the 1.5 million Armenians who were systematically annihilated at the
hands of the Ottoman Turkish government from 1915 to 1923, Calderon
said.

Rev. Nareg Pehlivanian, of Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Cathedral, said
the day was a dream come true and the sign would advance the cause of
educating people on the genocide.

"I share your joy on this historic day," he told the crowd.

"I am feeling most triumphant today," said Montebello Armenian Center
Chairman Nazareth Sadorian. "It's a celebration and partial victory for
our ancestors."

Although he warned the sign does not mean an end to the advocacy of
recognizing the genocide, it is a step forward for Armenians everywhere.

"It makes sure that the genocide is not lost in the archives, but is out
in the open," Sadorian said.

Grigor Hovhannissian, consulate general of The Republic of Armenia in
Los Angeles, said the sign would "send shock waves" to the world, as did
the monument.

"It will probably cause some kind of shock to drivers, especially with
the words, `genocide' and `martyrs,"' he said.

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From: A. Papazian