Manoush Simonian and her husband, Hrand Simonian, immigrated to the United States in 1952. She grew up in Israel and he grew up in Jordan.

Their ancestors were Armenian, but neither has ever lived in Armenia and neither has any close relatives living there now.But on Sunday the couple was among 6,000 people who visited the Universal Amphitheatre for a speech by Robert Kocharian, president of the Republic of Armenia.

"As much as we love the United States, we don't want to deny our roots. That's why we're here today," said Manoush Simonian, a 63-year-old retired schoolteacher. "We want to show how the United States is a strong supporter of Armenia."

The couple said they have lived the American dream, having retired after successful careers and raising three sons - two doctors and a lawyer. But it's important, they say, for Armenian-Americans in Los Angeles to help support the people of Armenia.

"We write checks. We invest money. We go there and open businesses in Armenia," said Hrand Simonian, editor emeritus of Armenian Life, a local Armenian-language newspaper.

On Sunday, people such as the Simonians said they wanted to hear from the president because of their concerns about the economy in the Republic of Armenia, especially given the recent financial crisis in nearby Russia. Kocharian used his speech to appeal to the Los Angeles area's 400,000 Armenian-Americans to support their homeland, which has struggled since becoming an independent nation in 1991 and has been plagued by economic problems since a devastating earthquake in 1988. "That's why we're here - to help Armenia on its feet again," said Vic Meukomian, 42.

Meukomian said many local Armenians, who are allowed to vote in the country's elections, supported Kocharian.

"All Armenians are united behind him and what he's done," Meukomian said.

In addition to the economic issues, locals were impressed that Kocharian was joined by both Armenian popes - Aram I, Catholicos of the See of Cilicia, and Karekin I, Catholicos of all Armenians.

"I don't remember in my lifetime ever seeing the president and two Catholicos all together," journalist Artin Sagherian said. "It symbolizes the unity of the Armenian people."