INTRODUCED BY   Senator Cogdill
   (Principal coauthor: Senator Simitian)
   (Principal coauthors: Assembly Members Aghazarian, Arambula,
Krekorian, and Villines)

                        MARCH 13, 2008

   Relative to William Saroyan Year.


   SCR 93, Cogdill. William Saroyan Year.
   This measure would designate the year 2008 as the William Saroyan
Year for enriching the cultural diversity of the state, and in
particular, for celebrating over 100 years of the cultural
contribution of Armenian Americans to the people of the state.

   WHEREAS, William Saroyan was born in Fresno, California in 1908.
Saroyan was the fourth child of Armenian immigrants. He embraced his
culture's distinctive qualities as an inspiration to his writing.
Saroyan's cultural celebration was most notably apparent in his 1940
story, "My Name Is Aram." This book exemplifies the life and times of
the California central valley during the mid-20th century; and
   WHEREAS, Saroyan died from cancer on May 18,1981, in Fresno at the
age of 72, about a mile from where he was born. His lasting words to
the press in the face of the inevitable were, "Everybody has got to
die ... but I have always believed an exception would be made in my
case." Half of his ashes were buried in the Ararat Cemetery in Fresno
and the remaining was interred in Yerevan, Armenia; and
   WHEREAS, Published in 1943, Saroyan's novel, "The Human Comedy,"
was adapted for the silver screen, starring Mickey Rooney. The film
received five Oscar nominations, and won Saroyan the award for Best
Writing Original Screen Story; and
   WHEREAS, Based on an Armenian folk tune, Saroyan cowrote "Come
On-a My House," along with his cousin Ross Bagdasarian. It was the
song that catapulted the career of Rosemary Clooney; and
   WHEREAS, Saroyan was among the most famous American writers of the
1930s and 1940s, and has over 4,000 literary works to his credit,
beginning in the late 1920s to the early 1980s, and has long been
established as one of America's most gifted and influential writers.
At one time, the Armenian American writer was mentioned in the same
breath as Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck; and
   WHEREAS, Saroyan was the first American writer to win both the New
York Drama Critic's Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for his
play, "The Time of Your Life" (1939); and
   WHEREAS, Saroyan's theatrical works continue to be performed today
at prominent theatrical venues, including New York's Broadway
stages, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and local theaters
throughout the United States; and
   WHEREAS, Saroyan, a humanitarian, wrote extensively about his
concern for humanity. Excerpts include: "If I have any desire at all,
it is to show the brotherhood of man." "In the time of your life,
live - so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery
and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite variety and
mystery of it." "Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found,
bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed."
"It is the heart of man that I am trying to imply in this work. I see
life as one life at one time, so many millions simultaneously, all
over the earth." "Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been
driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world"
; and
   WHEREAS, Saroyan's corpus of total artistic work includes plays,
novels, short stories, musical lyrics, drawings, and paintings; and
   WHEREAS, Over 40 organizations throughout the state have come
together to celebrate the 100th birthday anniversary of the acclaimed
author and playwright with lectures, theatrical performances, art
exhibitions, and writing contests; and
   WHEREAS, While Saroyan's writing in general is particularly
renowned among fellow Armenians, "The Armenian and the Armenian" is
an especially stirring declaration of solidarity. The piece is set
during the Armenian Genocide, in which over 1,500,000 Armenians were
killed. The words evoke notes of grief, rage, resilience, and
rebirth, in relation to Armenian cultural and social life. A famous
excerpt reads: "I should like to see any power of the world destroy
this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have
all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature
is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go
ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the
desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then
see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them
meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New
Armenia"; now, therefore, be it
   Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, the Assembly
thereof concurring, That the Legislature designates the year 2008 as
the William Saroyan Year for enriching the cultural diversity of the
state, and in particular, for celebrating over 100 years of the
cultural contribution of Armenian Americans to the people of the
state; and be it further
   Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this
resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.