DENVER, Colorado – On April 24-25, 2018, during the annual legislative commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, the Colorado House of Representatives and the State Senate unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 18-1019 that designates a major state highway in the Centennial State in honor of the heroic May 28, 1918 Sardarapat Battle that paved the way to the establishment of the independent Republic of Armenia.
“We applaud the Colorado legislature’s establishment of the Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Highway ahead of the 100th anniversary of Armenian independence and congratulate our grassroots in Colorado for this newest coup of vibrant Armenian American activism in the Centennial State,” remarked ANCA-Western Region chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. “As we commemorate the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide, we also recall the survivors’ great sacrifices to creating the independent Republic of Armenia that saved our ancient civilization from complete eradication. This permanent and unique memorial to the battle that saved the Armenian homeland makes the Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Highway a cause of celebration for Armenians across the world and especially in the Armenian Homeland,” continued Hovsepian.
Championed by the Colorado House Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist of Centennial and co-primed by fellow Representative Jeff Bridges and State Senators Dominick Moreno and Jack Tate, House Joint Resolution 18-1019 designates the four-mile portion of Arapahoe Road between Interstate 25 and Parker Road – which connects Centennial and Aurora, two cities with large Armenian American populations – as Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Highway “in honor of Armenian Genocide survivors’ valiant contributions in creating the independent Republic of Armenia one hundred years ago.” The Armenian Genocide commemoration and passage of the Sardarapat resolution can we watched at https://youtu.be/uNWpM6P2S1k?t=1m29s (House) and https://youtu.be/8N5I6v52SVQ?t=28m8s (Senate).
Earlier, Rep. Wist broke the news of the upcoming highway resolution to the Armenian community of at the April 22 commemoration at the Colorado State Capitol Armenian Genocide Memorial Garden. U.S. Congressman Mike Coffman and Wyoming State Senator Anthony Bouchard were also speakers at the commemoration, and community member Andy Karsian was master of ceremonies. The video of the Sunday commemoration can be watched at https://www.facebook.com/ANCAWesternRegion/videos/10156087839041147/. Earlier that week, on April 16, Rep. Wist and ANCA-WR community development coordinator Simon Maghakyan met with the City Council of Centennial to inform them about the upcoming highway. The 15-minute presentation and Q&A can be listened to on http://www.centennialco.gov/Mayor-Council/agendas-minutes-and-audio.aspx by clicking on “View Media” of the 04/16/2018 Regular Meeting and fast-forwarding to minute 8:15.
In a statement hailing the legislature’s vote, the joint Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Committee of Armenians of Colorado (AOC) and ANCA-Colorado dedicated the news of the new highway to yesterday’s victory in Armenia. “We wholeheartedly thank the Colorado General Assembly for commemorating the Armenian Genocide through a memorial highway that celebrates the Armenian people’s fearless determination to exist in a free and independent homeland. The timing of the resolution could not have been better. Two days ago, after days of mass peaceful protests and widespread civil disobedience, the freedom loving youth of Armenia compelled the resignation of the country’s Prime Minister after he broke the promise to not serve a third-term and threatened protesters with violence. This week, Armenians in Colorado simultaneously mourn the victims of the Genocide and celebrate the triumph of people-powered democracy in the Armenian Homeland.”
The official unveiling of the Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Highway signs will take place later this spring.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
The full text of the resolution is as follows:
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 18-1019 CONCERNING THE DESIGNATION OF A PORTION OF ARAPAHOE ROAD FROM INTERSTATE 25 TO PARKER ROAD IN ARAPAHOE COUNTY AS THE “SARDARAPAT ARMENIAN MEMORIAL HIGHWAY”.
WHEREAS, This year marks the 103rd anniversary of the first genocide of the 20th century, the Armenian genocide, when 1.5 million men, women, and children of Armenian descent were victims of a brutal genocide perpetrated by the Turkish Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923; and
WHEREAS, Three years after the genocide’s commencement, in May 1918 a group of genocide survivors, alongside Armenian forces, fought the larger Ottoman Turkish army to a standstill at Sardarapat at the foot of Mt. Ararat, a heroic sacrifice that paved the way to the Republic of Armenia; and
WHEREAS, The establishment of the Republic of Armenia through the Battle of Sardarapat enabled the Congressionally-sanctioned Near East Relief, which housed a regional headquarters in Denver, to optimize its nationwide fundraising that ultimately saved 132,000 Armenian genocide orphans; and
WHEREAS, Sardarapat is considered by many Americans of Armenian descent as the pivotal event in saving the last remnants of their ancient homeland and has been depicted in arts and literature alike, including in the works of American abstractionist Zareh Maranian, formerly of Colorado Springs; and
WHEREAS, The Armenian victory at Sardarapat is a universal inspiration to fight for one’s rights, without reliance on others, even when facing the worst imaginable conditions for survival; and
WHEREAS, In February 1921, the Colorado General Assembly expressed unanimous support for “Armenia, the oldest Christian nation and most martyred of the allies in the World War”; and
WHEREAS, This legislative body has recognized April 24 through numerous joint resolutions such as “Colorado Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide” and authorized the 2015 improvements to the Capitol grounds’ Armenian Genocide Memorial Garden, including the addition of a Khachkar monument; and
WHEREAS, It is the purpose of this Joint Resolution to keep the memory of Sardarapat alive so that Coloradans, whose predecessors generously aided the Armenian relief efforts, can be inspired by the heroic victory against all odds; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the Seventy-first General Assembly of the State of Colorado, the Senate concurring herein:
(1) That a portion of Arapahoe Road from Interstate 25 to Parker 29 Road in Arapahoe County be named the “Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Highway” in honor of Armenian Genocide survivors’ valiant contributions in creating the independent Republic of Armenia one hundred years ago;
(2) That the Colorado Department of Transportation may accept and expend gifts, grants, donations, and federal funds for the purposes of the initial placement of signs to mark the designated section of Arapahoe Road in Centennial, Colorado, as the “Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Highway”; and
(3) That the Colorado Department of Transportation may explore a cooperative agreement with the appropriate authorities of Arapahoe County for the maintenance of the markings for the “Sardarapat Armenian 7 Memorial Highway”.
Be It Further Resolved, That copies of this Joint Resolution be sent to the Transportation Commission of Colorado, the Office of Transportation Safety within the Colorado Department of Transportation, the joint Sardarapat Memorial Committee of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region’s Colorado Office, and Armenians of Colorado, Inc.