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Veterans Administration Approves Armenian Cross

Armenian Cross used by US Dept of VA

GLENDALE, Calif.—Last month, the Department of Veterans Affairs approved the Armenian cross as an “Emblem of Belief” that can be placed on the headstones or markers of a deceased American veteran.

“Having just honored Armenian American veterans of the United States Armed Forces at our Annual Banquet, this is welcome news and demonstrates the VA’s commitment to honoring Armenian American sacrifices in service to our country,” said Andrew Kzirian, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s (ANCA-WR) Board of Directors.

This development was made possible through the efforts of the family of Shavasp Hanesian, a resident of New York and a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. Hanesian served in the 24th Infantry Division in the Army of Occupation of Japan after World War II. The effort was led by Hanesian’s wife, Laurice, and brother, Deran, who investigated the matter following Hanesian’s death in 2005.

Currently, the Veterans Administration has approved over 35 “Emblems of Belief” for use on government grave markers. For more information, individuals can e-mail or contact the National Cemetery Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs at 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903.

The ANCA-WR honored Armenian-American military veterans at its 2011 Annual Banquet. The veterans, who served in the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, from World War II to Afghanistan and Iraq, received the ANCA-WR’s 2011 “Freedom Award.” The award was presented by Raffi Hamparian, chairman of the ANCA-WR’s Federal Affairs Committee, and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (Calif.-38-Cerritos), a member of the U.S. House of Representative’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee.