BY ADROUSHAN ANDY ARMENIAN
LAS VEGAS—Despite 40 to 50 mph gusty winds, Armenian-American community members gathered at Sunset Park’s Armenian Genocide Memorial Monument for a Candlelight Vigil on April 24. This year, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day was particularly significant with President Joe Biden’s formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
The Candlelight Vigil, Hosted by the Armenian American Cultural Society of Las Vegas with the participation of all Las Vegas Armenian Churches and organizations, honored the 1.5 million martyrs on the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. AACS Board Member and Master of Ceremony, Hermann Brumm invited Las Vegas Homenetmen Artsakh Chapter scouts for the flag presentation as Ms. Naree Asherian sang both Armenian and American anthems.
The invocation was led by Very Reverend Sasoon Zumrookhdian of St. Geragos Church, Rev. Father Artsakh Badoyan of St. Garabed Church and Pastor Sam Agulian of the Armenian Evangelical Church, accompanied by Der Vahan Gosdanian and Der Nareg Matarian.
On behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America – Nevada chapter, Lenna Hovanessian Esq. Co-Chair, welcomed Nevada elected officials, dignitaries and representatives of various organizations who participated in the vigil. Mrs. Hovanessian thanked President Biden’s formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide, ending denialism. Hovanessian also honored the 5,000 martyred soldiers of the 44 Day Artsakh War of 2020 under Azerbaijani and Turkish aggression. Prior to inviting Nevada Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall to the podium, Mrs. Hovanessian highlighted the importance of the current bill about Holocaust & Genocide Education to be adopted by the Nevada Assembly.
Nevada Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall had specifically flown from Carson City, Nevada to participate in the vigil. In her remarks she thanked President Biden for acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and affirming Armenians’ right to justice and recognition of the truth. The Lieutenant Governor also expressed her support to teaching the truth about the Armenian Genocide by adopting the Holocaust and Genocide Education bill.
Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson, City of Las Vegas Councilwoman Victoria Seaman and Councilwoman Michelle Fiore also took the podium in support of the Las Vegas Armenian-American community and presented Certificates of Recognition. Demi Falcon and Gerri Shroder, representing Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus and Susie Lee addressed the vigil. Nevada Assemblyman Andy Matthews, District 37 was also present and expressed his support in adopting the Armenian Genocide Education Bill, and Assemblywoman Annie Black, District 19, presented a proclamation.
Lenna Hovanessian acknowledged the presence of the Honorary Consul of Lebanon in Las Vegas, Mr. Philippe Ziade, and expressed the Armenian community’s gratitude to Lebanon, where hundreds of thousands of Armenian lives were saved after the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Mr. Ziade spoke highly of the Armenian community in Lebanon as exemplary and ingenious people who contribute to society wherever they are with hard work and integrity.
Anti-Defamation League, Nevada Regional Director, Jolie Brislin, Jewish Nevada Organization President and CEO, Stephanie Tuzman, also addressed the vigil expressing their support to the Armenian community. Also present were Heidi Sarno Straus, Chair of the Holocaust Education Task Force, Esther Finder, advisor to Nevada Governor’s Council on Holocaust Education, and Noa Jensch of the Israeli American Council. Also present were Commissioner Danny Tarkanian and Dr. Sabri Atman of the Assyrian Genocide Research Center.
The evening concluded with prayers by the clergy and guests placing flowers and candles at the “Eternal Circle” of the monument.
Prior to the vigil, two new Guinness World Record were set by father and son Hratchia and Hakob Arakelian. On April 24, 2021 at Sunset Park, they successfully set two new weightlifting records where Hratchia lifted 11,100 pounds in 3 minutes with 37 squats and Hakob lifted 7,400 pounds in 1 minute with 40 squats. Both records were dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
Adroushan Andy Armenian is the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia in Las Vegas.