FRESNO (Massis Post) — On Friday, March 13, the honorary consulate of the Republic of Armenia in Fresno will host a celebration of the 150th birthday of Gen. Andranik Ozanian. This unique event features talks by Hovsep Nalbandian and Fresno County Supervisor Deborah Poochigian, musical performances and recitations, and a special display of memorabilia and publications of General Antranik unveiled for the first time in Fresno. The gala will begin at 7 p.m. and take place in the Southwest Pacific Ballroom. Admission is free.
Born in 1865 in the town of Shabin-Karahisar in Western Armenia, Ozanian grew to become the best known and loved military commander in modern Armenian history. In his early adulthood, he led a group of fedayees to protect Armenian peasants from Turkish oppression and brutality. During WWI, he commanded a unit of Armenian volunteers in the Russian Imperial Army and continued to defend his people from the genocidal hand of the Ottoman Turks after the fall of the Russian monarchy in 1917. Outnumbered and lacking supplies at Erzurum, Andranik and his men staved off the Turkish army long enough to allow countless Armenians to evacuate the city and thus escape certain death. In his later years he moved to Fresno, enjoying a status similar to the late Hmong commander General Vang. Upon his death in 1927, he received a military funeral at Fresno’s Ararat Cemetery but was subsequently re-interred in Paris and most recently in Yerablur, the veteran’s cemetery in Yerevan, Armenia.
The consulate is organizing the celebration in collaboration with: Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Relief Society, Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Tehlirian Gomideh, Fresno State Armenian Studies Program, Fresno State Armenian Students Organization, Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School, Hamazkayin Educational & Cultural Society, Knight and Daughters of Vartan, and Tekeyan Cultural Association.
The event is part of a series of activities promoted by the Armenian Genocide Centennial—Fresno Committee, which includes representatives from the religious, educational, social, and political organizations of the Central Valley. The group’s goals are to commemorate the 1.5 million martyrs who perished at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish Government; to educate others about the Armenian Genocide and historical injustice; and to inspire people to overcome adversity through the story of the survivors’ of the Armenian Genocide. For more information, visit the AGC—Fresno Committee’s website at www.agcfresno.org and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/agcfresno.