On a still Saturday morning, an entourage of Armenian officials arrived at Fresno State to visit the campus’ unique Armenian Genocide Memorial and show admiration for the region.
Though he had visited Fresno before, it was the first time Armenia’s Consul General Armen Baibourtian had seen the memorial in person since it was built in 2015.
Baibourtian was expected to meet later in the day with the mayor and visit an Armenian church. On Sunday, he was set to give a keynote speech at a Fresno State Armenian Studies banquet, where students would be honored with scholarships.
In the minutes that Baibourtian visited at Fresno State, Honorary Consul for Armenia in Fresno Berj K. Apkarian explained to him all about the monument, and everything that went into its construction, like the fact that Armenian soil sits under the monument.
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He explained that the spiral ring atop the monument represents the “jolt” of the 1915 genocide where 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered.
Joined by Fresno State President Joseph Castro, Apkarian and Baibourtian walked behind a wreath that was carried from the steps of the monument to its center, where quiet water streams down from the pillars.
The wreath and the visit paid by the consul general honored the Armenian lives lost during the genocide, which lasted from 1915 to 1923. Baibourtian and the other men bowed their heads and stood silent in honor of the victims.
This monument, Baibourtian said, is a symbol of prevention. “It shows that no more tragedies like genocide should occur.”
The visit was emotional for Baibourtian, both because of what the monument represents but because Fresno has always felt like home to him, he said.
He admires Fresno people as hardworking and important, and said he will continue to maintain strong relationships and keep a constant eye on the region, a historically traditional destination for Armenian migration.
Bairbourtian said Armenia is making efforts to advance and improve its agricultural technology, and there is a lot to learn from Fresno and its farmers -- and from Fresno State.
“The agricultural segment of our cooperation will be a prevailing one,” Baibourtian said. “Fresno is very important for Armenia.