Hundreds of Angelenos gathered at the steps of Pasadena City Hall on Tuesday to pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Armenians killed by forces loyal to the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1923.
The event was organized by the Armenian Community Coalition on the massacre's 97-year anniversary.
While the event was focused on raising awareness and recognition of the attacks within the Armenian community, lawmakers and speakers also pushed for official recognition of the Armenian genocide from the city and federal governments.
"If we continue not to recognize the genocide, officially, it not only hurts us as Americans, I believe it hurts Turkey also," says David Mgrublian, CEO of IDS Real Estate Group. "As long as the Armenian-American community doesn't allow the American public to forget, I think the likelihood of recognition is inevitable. It's just a matter of time."
Mgrublian lost seven of eight grandparents in the killings.
Roy Boulghourjian of the Armenian Community Coalition says they are in talks with the city of Pasadena to erect a monument in Memorial Park.
The slaughter of Armenians that began in 1915 is regarded by many to be the first genocide of the 20th Century. But Turkey has historically denied that the killings qualify as genocide, and President Obama has been hesitant to use the term – even after a congressional committee voted to.
"It's not in our culture to not act on the truth," said Khatchik "Chris" Chahinian, chairman of the Armenian Community Coalition. "When we have put it to the side, it's hurt our country."
The commemoration included a number of speakers, performers, school groups and religious leaders. Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard spoke, as did representatives of Congress and the Consul of the Republic of Armenia.