FRESNO–Hundreds gathered at the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church Hall in Fresno–California on Friday–April 1–for the March For Humanity opening ceremony.
Following welcoming remarks by Vicken Yepremian–representative of the ARF "Soghomon Tehlirian" chapter of Fresno–the Reverend Vrouyr Vartabed Demirjian delivered a message from Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and blessed the marchers.
As the marchers were called to the stage–they received a two-minute standing ovation from the audience. Noushig Karpanian read a statement to the marchers by California Assembly Majority Leader Assembly member Dario Frommer.
March for Humanity coordinator Vicken Sosikian applauded the courage of the marchers and reaffirmed that the youth is on the forefront of the battle for proper recognition of the Armenian genocide. The March For Humanity–he emphasized–has become the march of the Armenian people organized and led by the youth.
After a second round of echoing applause–California State Assembly member Juan Arambula expressed best wishes to the marchers and commended their initiative. Assembly member Arambula recounted the horrors the Armenian people faced during the Genocide and reaffirmed his support for the March For Humanity and justice for the Armenian people worldwide.
Armenian Youth Federation Western Region chairman Shant Baboujian delivered a powerful and moving speech praising the marchers’ sacrifice and willingness to make a difference in advancing the Armenian case by using themselves as a means. As they embark on their journey–Baboujian asked the marchers to turn to the souls of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian genocide as their source of guidance and strength.
ARF Western Region Central Committee member and youth representative Dikran Sassounian saluted the marchers for their sacrifice–willingness–courage–and political maturity. He also spoke about new courses of action the Turkish government is taking to deny the Genocide–as well as the important role the Armenian community and Armenian organizations play in the quest for proper recognition of the Armenian genocide.
The following morning–Genocide survivors–community members–and the marchers gathered at the Holy Trinity Church where they received blessing as they began on their 19 day journey.
Close to 50 marchers began the journey at 10 a.m. on Saturday–April 2–walking from the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church. By Sunday evening–the marchers had already walked 36 miles and ended their day at the St. Joachim Church–where they slept in a room provided by the church.
The opening ceremony and Church services attracted various Fresno-based broadcast and print media. Armenian communities across the world have already shown their support for the March For Humanity. Television reports in Armenia–radio broadcasts in South America–websites in Europe–and Armenian and non-Armenian newspapers and television newscasts have already covered the march and shown their solidarity with the marchers during the first two days.
Many organizations and businesses have also been very supportive. Major supporters of the March For Humanity include the Armenian Relief Society-Western Region–ANCA Western Region–Homenetmen Western Region–Adin of California–Sunworks Tanning–GBH–Horizon Armenian Television–Asbarez Daily Armenian Newspaper–and Kerovision–among others.