Descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors stood surrounded by students, parents and local leaders in Montrose to remember the 1.5 million genocide victims who perished from 1915 to 1923 under the Ottoman Empire, now present day Turkey.
students placed flowers along the re-created Tsitsernakaberd, a memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, that honors Armenian Genocide victims.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) spoke Tuesday to locals about the importance of remembering the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
"The Ottoman Empire tried to destroy an entire people, they tried to destroy a beautiful, historic, accomplished and loving people, and they failed," Schiff said.
"The evidence of that failure could not be more graphic than what we see here today, [with] these beautiful children who are learning the Armenian language, who are learning Armenian history, who are practicing the faith of their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents for many, many generations," Schiff said.
"It is our responsibility to pray for those who perished, to remember them, to speak plainly about what they endured, to speak the truth to those who would deny genocide," Schiff said.
Schiff said it was the community's responsibility to stay dedicated to ending genocide.
"I hope that our president will rise to the occasion and speak plainly about genocide, that our country will speak plainly about genocide. It has never been our national interest to become complicit in a campaign of denial. It is not now and it never will be," Schiff said.
Crescenta Valley Town Council President Cheryl Davis and Councilmember Harry Leon came to the commemoration with a proclamation to mark April 24 as a Day of Rememberence of the Armenian Genocide.
Arick Gevorkian of the spoke about genocide in the world and why people should still remember the Armenian Genocide.
"Genocide is a crime against humanity, and there is no statute of limitations on genocide--not even 97 years. At the time the Armenian Genocide was being carried out, the Allies called it "a crime against humanity and civilization."
"History is too important to leave to historians," Gevorkian said. "By leaving the Armenian injustice of World War I uncorrected, the stage was set for the Holocaust of World War II."
Gevorkian explained how following the Armenian Genocide, genocides have happened in other countries during the 20th Century, including Darfur, Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Chad, Haiti, Sudan, Burundi, Liberia, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, North Korea, Congo.
He hopes that the Armenian community will continue to remember the Armenian Genocide, and in this spirit, work to prevent genocides around the world.
"I get emotional on [Genocide] commemoration because it has become part of our fabric, it has become part of our souls," Gevorkian said.