Genocide Monument Freeway Signs Installed
MONTEBELLO—Freeway signs directing drivers to the Armenian Genocide Martyrs’ Monument were installed Tuesday. The signs placed along the 60 freeway near the Garfield/Wilcox exits in Montebello.
On April 1, the State of California will officially hold an unveiling ceremony of the signs, following a reception will be held at the Montebello Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument at Bicknell Park. The event will be held at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Monument will become a historical landmark in 2015, coinciding with 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument was unveiled in April, 1968 to honor the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government from 1915 through 1921, as well as to honor all victims of crimes against humanity.
The California State Assembly passed a bill directing the Department of Transportation to place informational signs on the 60 freeway directing motorists to the “Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument.”
This was no small achievement and has been heralded and commended by the entire Armenian community. The current plan is to have the freeway signs installed in the next few months, prior to next year’s April 24th commemoration event.
A celebration event is being planned for early spring and more details will be provided in January.
Clearly, the monument serves as a beacon for Armenians all around the world and its importance cannot be understated as we continue to remember and honor all of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. Accordingly, we hope you enjoy the site and learn a bit more about the past, present and future of the monument.
Montebello Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument History
The idea of the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Memorial originated following the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 1965, when thousands of Armenians walked through the streets of Los Angeles in a march of solidarity and remembrance. Spurred by that successful event, the organizers decided that a permanent location needed to be found to honor and preserve the memories of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide.
Several months later a location in the City of Montebello was secured, in a public park, where thousands of motorists could see the monument from the nearby freeway. The fundraising effort was very broad, with donations coming in from all around the world, as word spread of the efforts to erect this glorious monument. The total cost of construction was $125,000, with the City providing the land.
The design of the monument was determined after reviewing several submissions by various artists and architects. The eventual design incorporated the concept of the cone-shaped steeples characteristic of Armenian churches, and the decision was to have it raised 75 feet high and supported by eight cement columns.
The approval to build the monument and secure the land was challenging, as it was opposed by the Turkish government and other political forces. But the local Armenian community was mobilized and ready to counter and defeat all of these efforts. The City of Montebello council meetings were emotionally charged with some Turkish groups threatening to blow up the monument if the city council approved the proposal. Despite the threats, political pressure and emotionally charged atmosphere, the city council courageously voted in favor of the monument and approved its construction.
The construction permit was secured in 1966, with construction beginning in earnest in 1967. Amid great excitement, the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Memorial was unveiled on April 21, 1968, with over 10,000 people in attendance