Monte “Avo” Meklonian, 25 November 1958 – 12 June 1993

By Ira Poghossyan and Nick Wagner25 November 2010

Each year in the plaza of the Martuni Government building people gather to extend their respect, appreciation, and love for Commander Avo. This year’s birthday celebration was simple, and a beautiful tribute in this setting. Rather than an honor guard around the statue of Monte, government officials praising him, and a troop of Artsakh soldiers marching into the plaza — the people of Martuni left a flower. In the Taghevard, Martuni, Ashot Grashi School [he is an Armenian poet], these words of Monte are prominently displayed:  “I am ready to struggle for Artsakh Land.

I am even ready to give my life.”When Ira Poghossyan, a 2009 Mesrop Mashtots University graduate, and I arrived after 9 o’clock, there were a few individuals milling-around in the plaza.  We entered the Government office building and proceeded to the third floor office of regional cultural affairs official, Ani Khatchaturyan.  Warm greetings were exchanged. Ira shared with me that Ani indicated that this year only the flowers were the way Monte was honored. She asked if we wished to meet the County Director, Artyom Avanessyan. We indicated a “Yes.”Mr. Avanessyan greeted us cordially and asked questions about why we were here and what did we know of Monte. Our responses were acknowledged and appreciated. Initially, we indicated our relationship with Mesrop Mashtots University. After asking if we had been to the site where Monte died, and not hearing a “Yes,” Mr. Avanessyan offered to have Mher, an aide, and Anush, his secretary, to take us there.  First, though we returned to the plaza statue for a photo.  As this was done, a group of school Children in a straight-line walked onto the plaza and came to the Monte’s statue. They placed flowers, turned, and commenced their individual speeches honoring Monte.

There teacher stood on my right saying the words too. She would speak a little louder when a child forgot a word or two. The Children’s love was felt.Ira, the aide, the secretary and I drove about 40-minutes to reach the memorial site with a beautiful cross-stone and a wall with Commander Avo’s belief: “Եթե մենք կոռցնենք Արցախը մենք կշրջենք Հայ ժողովրդի պատմության վերջին էջը:” [If we loose Artsakh, we will turn the last page of Armenian History.]This cross-stone and apropos statement are very complimentary to Monte. To have had the opportunity to be in both settings, as-well-as at the “Avo Spring “ near Spitakashen in the same day constituted our respect, appreciate, and love for this man who gave his life for the people he loved. The Martunians remember him … they deserve a “Thank You” for continuing to honor a Californian who found a home and a place in the hearts and minds of Grandmas, Grandpas, Moms and Dads who present to their children a loving image of their Commander and Friend.



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