Armenian Genocide Memorial blessed in Boise

September 21, 2018 (released September 21, 2018)
Source: Idaho Press

By Riley Bunch

BOISE — Boise resident Eleanor Karapetian was among those who attended the blessing of the new Armenian Genocide Memorial Friday at the site of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise.

A first-generation Armenian, she marked her father’s 109th birthday that evening.

“I told him I had a birthday present for him,” she said.

The new memorial honors the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide as part of the Marilyn Shuler Outdoor Classroom for Human Rights. Members of the Armenian community raised money to build a bench, audio installation and wall engraving in remembrance.

Mark Abajian, prominent leader in the Idaho Armenian community, said the community is very excited and loves the memorial.

“For years to come,” said Abajian, “Idahoans and visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the first genocide of the century.”

Father Nektarios Serfes from the Greek Orthodox Church of Boise offered his services to bless the memorial.

“What a great day for you and your Armenian heritage,” Serfes said to the crowd of more than thirty people. “You should be proud.”.

Visitors can listen to four stories about child survivors of genocide through audio boxes located next to the Marilyn Shuler Outdoor Classroom.

Jo-Ann Kachigian is one of those to share her story with memorial patrons. At 12 years old, Kachigian’s mother, Joohar, was the lone survivor of her family of 46. She then survived a nearly year-long death march from Turkey to Syria.

In 1915, an estimated 2 million Christian Armenians were wiped out by the Turkish government during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The United Nations recognizes it as the first genocide of the 20th century.

In 2004, Idaho became the 33rd state — of now 47 — to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

“A human tragedy should be remembered,” said Abajian. “For the simple reason that it should not happen again.”

Riley Bunch is the night digital reporter for the Idaho Press.