LOS ANGELES–The Los Angeles-Yerevan Sister City Association in collaboration with Los Angeles City Council President, Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Council Member and President of Sister Cities of Los Angeles, Tom LaBonge unveiled the Los Angeles to Yerevan street sign on Friday before community leaders and activists in Downtown Los Angeles.
Garcetti began by welcoming the Los Angeles community to the unveiling of the traditional, fraternal street sign. During his remarks Council President Garcetti touched upon the theme of the day by referring to the founding heritages of both cities, making note of the glorious founding of both Yerevan and Los Angeles, which now officially share a common fate.
“With the unveiling today, Yerevan officially became a Sister City on our signage downtown," he said. "But it has long been a sister city in our hearts."
Following Garcetti’s speech, Council Member LaBonge thanked all those who tirelessly worked to make the Sister City relationship a reality and invited to the stage Souzi Zerounian-Khanzadian, President of the LAYSCA.
Zerounian-Khanzadian, proclaiming it a day of celebration, congratulated the crowd on the occasion of 16th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia. She continued with an introduction to the LAYSCA and its mission, urging the guests to join the association and further advance the relationship being established today.
“We are making history on this day,” said Zerounian-Khanzadian.“By inaugurating this sister city relationship with this sign, we are building new bridges across the world and continuing an ancient legacy that has allowed our people to maintain and develop our links to the homeland, the world, and each other for over a thousand years.”
Following the unveiling of the sign, City Council President Garcetti moved the ceremony into the Los Angeles City Council Chambers where his Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate for the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America and His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Prelate for the Western Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America spoke and offered the opening and closing prayers.
"Today, marks yet another milestone for Armenia’s all around the world,” said Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. “A sister city partnership with two great cities, Los Angeles and Yerevan, brings great pride to the Armenian community living within Los Angeles and even greater pride to the Armenia’s living in Yerevan.
“The unveiling of the sign inspires us to have the vision to further develop relationships between the two cities in order to further develop our understanding of human culture and the beauty of God’s creation,” said Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.” For a nation, which has survived genocide and has endured decades of communist oppression, the initiation of this Sister City relationship is a historic moment which has instilled us with not only a new sense of commitment but a deep respect for the architects of this important mission.”
Representing the Republic of Armenia was Deputy Consul General Harutyun Kojoyan, who also spoke to the Council Chamber. Kojoyan commended the LAYSCA for their efforts to bring together the two cities with the largest concentration of Armenians on the planet. He further noted that “the LAYSCA is unique because it allows us to get together and work together on a whole new level for a common and shared mission.”
“From a historical point of view, it’s a way for our societies both in Yerevan and Los Angeles to get together and think about cooperation for a common and prosperous future,” said Kojoyan. “This is a binding and bonding bridge between these two societies and it will make our futures brighter and more successful.”
The event came to a close with a reception held in the Tom Bradley Tower of City Hall where guests were served refreshmen’s and given an opportunity to enjoy a photograph exhibit, sponsored by the Armenian Center for the Arts, depicting life in Armenia and Los Angeles.
Today is a very exciting day for me,” said Johnny Nalbandian, Executive Director for the Foundation of Economic Development and an international trade Specialist for the California Trade Office. “Back when I came to California in 1959, there weren’t many Armenia’s here,” he added. We have come a long way as a community and are getting stronger by the day. Now there are nearly half a million of us in Los Angeles and we have become active citizens in our beautiful city of Angel’s.”
On February 23, 2007 Yerevan became Los Angeles’ 26th sister city and the Los Angeles-Yerevan Sister City Association was formally established following a signing ceremony at Los Angeles City Hall presided over by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LA City Council President Eric Garcetti, and Yerevan Mayor Yervand Zakharyan.
The Los Angeles-Yerevan Sister City Association is a nonprofit organization that promotes friendly ties between Yerevan and Los Angeles, as well as between the United States and Armenia. This is accomplished through cultural, educational, scientific, health services, sports, and trade and commercial exchanges between the two cities.