Do you know much about Armenians? Did you know our art gallery, the Bogigian Gallery, was donated by an Armenian man? Did you know we have exchange students from Armenia? You might if you have been to a Muhibbah dinner, but many do not attend. Even worse, most people have no idea what the Armenian Genocide even was.
For most, April 24 is just another date on the calendar, but to Armenians all over the world, we remember on that day all of the horrors that have been done to our ancestors. 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered by the Ottoman Empire during World War I from 1914 – 1916. During this period, the Ottoman Empire used the cover of the war to force the millions of Armenians residing in Turkey to march across the country killing and torturing everyone. This genocide is said to be the precursor to the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler said to his associates when persuading them that the Jewish holocaust would be tolerated by the west, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
Unfortunately today, not many do. To this day, Turkey refuses to recognize the genocide, and for political reasons the United States of America does not recognize the massacre of the Armenians. People have chosen to ignore the facts and refuse to acknowledge the heartbreaking story of the Armenians.
I am Armenian. I am proud to be Armenian, and my family, like many others, suffered at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. My great, great grandmother Sandoughk Chakarian watched her husband hung in the doorway of their home, then escaped to American with her three children Hripsime, Dikran and Zarouhi. Once they came to America they changed their names to Sarah, Helen, Michael and Celia. I have been to Turkey, visited the old lands of the Armenians and found a statue dedicated to the Turks in memorial of the Armenians attacking the Turkish people. The Turkish Government has gone so far as to rewrite history to blame the Armenians for killing the Turks. When I visited where my family once lived, I found the area to be occupied by the Kurdish people who have moved into where the Armenians once lived.
The Armenian people have been fighting for the recognition for our family members and yet it seems that few are aware we exist. Names such as the Kardashians, George Clooney and Amal Clooney are helping to bring the Genocide to light.
May 7 through May 9 of 2015, the 100th memorial of the Armenian Genocide, thousands of Armenians and supporters will gather in Washington D.C. to remember those that we lost to the horror. The events on May 7, 8 and reception on May 9 have been sold out, but there is a chance to attend Divine Liturgy at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 10 a.m. on May 9 and visit Exhibitions and Cultural Events at the Marriott Hotel May 7-9.
I ask you, my friends, colleagues and fellow students to educate yourselves and to learn about your classmates and to help fight for our right to be recognized.
“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
The Armenians do. I do. I hope you do.