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Florida Armenians Participate in International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration at Palm Beach Central High School

WELLINGTON, FL – On Friday, January 25, 2019 the Palm Beach County School District held an International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration at Palm Beach Central High School (PBCHS). The event featured a collaborative program of student speakers from the school’s Holocaust Studies Department that highlighted the mass genocides of the 20th century, and called attention to the increase of violent crimes due to bigotry and hatred.

Over 100 students, faculty, and administrators gathered in the auditorium to hear the presentations, including remarks from PBCHS Holocaust Studies Department Chair Ms. Maureen Holtzer, and Zelda Fuksman, a Holocaust survivor who speaks to students across Florida about the Holocaust as part of the state’s inSIGHT Through Education initiative.

Following the presentations, participants traveled outside to the unveiling of a Genocide Memorial Garden, which will be a permanent fixture for students, parents, and teachers to learn about all genocides, man’s inhumanity towards man, and the lessons of intolerance and prejudice.

Norman Frajman, a local Holocaust survivor spoke about his experience, the importance of remembrance, and how we can all learn from the past lest we be doomed to repeat it.

Florida Armenians Editor Taniel Koushakjian offered remarks about the local Armenian American community’s efforts to expand genocide education through the work of the Armenian Genocide Committee (AGC). The AGC has successfully led a unified Armenian American community effort since 2014, working hand-in-hand with government officials, school administrators, educators, and parents in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties.

Ms. Holtzer and her students spent weeks preparing the beautiful grounds of the garden. They also worked passionately to deliver a moving presentation and program. The Genocide Memorial Garden features hand-made butterflies that list the names of genocide victims for each instance of genocide, including the Armenian Genocide.

“The garden was created by students from my research class as their legacy to the school,” Ms. Holtzer said. “They felt it was of utmost importance to create something that would be a reminder of the devastating consequences of hatred. They selected the butterfly as their symbol as it represents both beauty and freedom,” said Ms. Holtzer.

To conclude the program participants were all given butterflies which were then set free together to mark the opening of the garden.

“I think it’s wonderful,” stated Richard Baronian of Boynton Beach, FL. The names of Baronian’s family members who perished in the genocide are displayed in the garden. “The genocide remembrance garden at Palm Beach Central High School will teach the students and parents of non-Armenians about our history. Hopefully they will want to find out more so the world never forgets,” Baronian said.

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Vartanantz Day Celebrated in South Florida

Members of the Knights of Vartan, Hayasdan Lodge at St. David Armenian Church.

BOCA RATON, FL – Last month, the Knights of Vartan, Hayasdan Lodge, in collaboration with St. Mary & St. David Armenian Churches of South Florida, held their annual Vartanantz Day celebration. The celebration marks the anniversary of the historic Battle of Avarayr, where 10,000 Armenian troops battled 300,000 Persians in a fight to defend the Armenian homeland, the first Christian nation, from the invading Zoroastrian Persian army. Vartan Mamigonian, for whom the day and organization are named, was the prince of Armenia and military general who led the fight and died for his faith on the battlefield of Avarayr.

The Knights of Vartan program included a short video presentation about Vartanantz Day, remarks from John Kochkerian, dinner, desert, and singing of Armenian patriotic songs.

Taniel Koushakjian speaking to students at Palm Beach Central High School.

Earlier that day, Arsine Kaloustian, Chair of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc. and Editor of FLArmenians.com, and Taniel Koushakjian, Founder of FLArmenians.com, gave presentations on the Armenian Genocide and the importance of human rights education to students at Palm Beach Central High School.