Legislation that passed in April ceremoniously becomes official Saturday when lawmakers unveil a sign designating Arapahoe Road from Interstate 25 to Parker Road in Centennial the Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Highway.
The designation commemorates the Battle of Sardarapat in 1918, a key, often overlooked battle of World War I that was a turning point in the Ottoman advance that prevented the destruction of the Armenia.
The sign will be unveiled during a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 29 at 9602 E Arapahoe Road in Centennial.
The resolution that passed the Colorado House 65-0 and Senate 34-0 was sponsored by Reps. Cole Wist, R-Centennial and Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, with Sens. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Jack Tate, R-Centennial.
Wist told Colorado Politics Monday about the significance, besides the fact his wife is part of Colorado’s large Armenian community.
“Beginning in April 1915, 1.5 million Armenians lost their lives in a campaign of systematic extermination carried out by the Turkish Ottoman Empire,” he said. “To this day, Turkey denies that these events occurred.
“With this highway designation, our community remembers the souls lost,” Wist added. “We dedicate ourselves to educating others regarding the causes of genocide, and we commit our efforts to preventing these atrocities from ever happening again.”
Simon Maghakyan, the Denver-based Western region community development coordinator for the Armenian National Committee of America, said Wist championed the cause “without him this would go nowhere.”
“Such an honor for Colorado’s Armenian community to have a permanent memorial to Sardarapat,” he said. “This was WWI’s most critical do-or-die battle, where the Armenian people united to save themselves from final extinction by stopping the genocidal Ottoman Turks’ effort of eliminating the last surviving remnant of historic Armenia.
“Also exciting that the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Sardarapat and establishment of the First Republic of Armenia coincided with the pro-democracy, peaceful, and youth-powered Velvet Revolution in Armenia earlier this year, making the memorial highway designation even more special and symbolic.”