BY MARY NAJARIAN
The fourth Monday of May, Memorial Day, has been a very special day of remembrance for my entire family, just as April 24th has always been.
Sixty years ago, as a young girl of twenty, I came to America, after spending my early years in Aleppo, Syria, and then Beirut, Lebanon. I thank the Lord for having guided me to come to America, to this wonderful country and giving me the opportunity to live and raise my wonderful children in this beloved country, which I call HOME.
Every year, I look forward to attending the Memorial Day Services . When the children were young, they were in the Memorial Day Parades, whether it was with their football team, baseball, swim or tennis teams. They would be marching and waving the American Flag, and I proudly cheered for our country. I was filled with great joy to know that my children were learning to respect and appreciate what Memorial Day signified.
Two years ago, I attended two memorial services, the first one at La Crescenta’s Two Strike’s Park at 8:00 am and another at Glendale City Hall’s courtyard at 9:30 am.
The program at La Crescenta was a very special, and touching. They honored a fallen Armenian-American hero of Vietnam War, US Navy Corpsman, Michael Najarian. Michael had finished his two- year term, but he asked to extend it for one more month, so he could return home with his buddies. Just two days before he was scheduled to come home, Michael was killed while giving aid to a fellow serviceman on the battlefield. Michael was born in La Crescenta on August 4,1944 and was killed in Vietnam, on June 18,1966, just a few weeks short of his 22nd birthday. A framed rubbing of Michael Najarian’s name was given to Lt. Col. Raffi Najarian as his closest living relative.
At 9:30 am, after leaving La Crescenta park, my husband and I attended the Glendale City Memorial Service. One thing that had been bothering me all through these years
re-surfaced again. At La Crescenta Memorial service, I looked around to see if there were any other Armenians in the crowd. I saw one Armenian man passing out the flags. Perhaps there might have been a few others whom I might have missed.
In Glendale they had 300 chairs for the audience to sit, but it is sad to say that there were over 100 empty chairs. The main speaker of the day, Major General Mark Mac Carley made a comment, ‘If it were a free movie at the Americana, the place would have been packed. Where are the people of Glendale?’ I turned around and whispered to my husband,”Where are the Armenian Americans of Glendale?”
Now I want to make my comment and ask, Where are the Armenian Armenian residents of Glendale? Where are the school children? Where are our scouts?
Yes I did see a few Armenians in the audience, a few community leaders, and a very few others in Glendale . We proudly say that 50 % of Glendalians are Armenians than one would expect to see 50% or more of the audience at the Memorial service to be Armenian Americans.
Let us show our friends and neighbors that we are proud to be American Armenians. Let us show our community that we are grateful for the sacrifices that the young men and women have made for all of us. They have given the most precious thing : their lives. And, they did that so , YOU and I can come and live in this wonderful and beloved country we call America.