FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Thursday night was a historic one for Fresno State and the entire Armenian community in the Valley, as the Armenian genocide monument was officially unveiled.
The 100th anniversary of the genocide is Friday.
One thousand chairs were easily filled in the Maple Mall, and a couple thousand more stood for the unveiling. Fresno State estimated the attendance surpassed 4,000.
The new monument means the world to Armenians like Hrair Messerlian and Shant Bedoyan, lifelong friends, Valley born and raised, with grandparents who survived the genocide.
"This represents a great focal point for the Armenians of this community to see what we have in terms of the community itself coming together and focusing on things that really have touched each and every one of us as Armenians," Messerlian said.
"It brings notoriety to not just Armenian genocide but the genocide of other countries, of other religions, everything in the world, like what's happening with ISIS right now," Bedoyan said.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro said it was a magnificent evening, and adding that the monument, which includes soil from Armenia, is the first of its kind on an American college campus.
"We'll be able to have students for generations to come learn about the genocide, learn about the Armenian community and all the contributions that they've made to Fresno State, to the San Joaquin Valley, and beyond," Castro said.