History of the Monument

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.

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