It was 102 years ago, April 15, 2015, that the Armenian Genocide began. More than 1.5 million Armenians and many others perished at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Monday night at Fresno State, the community gathered to honor their memory.

And naturally, most the program, part religious observance and part speeches, was conducted in the Armenian language. It featured prayers, dancing and speeches from the like of Fresno State President Joseph Castro and Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.

Attendants laid flowers at the on-campus memorial, the only one of its kind at a college setting. A scout troop led a flag ceremony and the clergy prayed.

“I think it’s important to recognize the genocide. We have so many families touched here in the Central Valley. This monument respects those lives that were lost,” Castro said.

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation about the Armenian Genocide. But like previous presidents, did not actually use the word “Genocide.” That is still an issue with the community says Barlow Der Mugrdechian, the Fresno State Coordinator of Armenian Studies and emcee of the event.

“There is always disappointment when ‘genocide’ is not used. The last few presidents have pretty much done the same thing, which is to use ‘Meds Yeghern,’ ‘The Great Crime,’ but they haven’t used the term ‘genocide.’ I would say Armenians expect more. The community expects more from the president,” Der Mugrdechian told GV Wire.

The crowd, numbering in the hundreds, heard the power of remembrance and resiliency.

“We Armenians are a resilient people with an amazing history. The first Christian nation,” spoke Kevin Kasper, the Associate Pastor at Armenian Pilgrim Congregational Church. “And then, the genocide; the first genocide of the 20th Century. At least in part, that genocide happened because of the Armenian people’s identification with Christ.”

Castro addressed the crowd, talking about the importance of the monument where the ceremony took place. “Fresno State pledges to keep remembrance alive with this monument. It is a symbol of hope, education, memory and inspiration.”

Brand offered the closing comments. “And never, never ever forget the men and women and children who perished in this terrible genocide whose dreams were never fulfilled many years ago. And never relent on your efforts to demand the United States Congress to officially condemn the genocide.”

Menk chenk mornar. We will never forget.

 

Watch Joseph Castro’s full speech

Watch Lee Brand’s full speech

 

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Contact David Taub

Phone: 559-492-4037 / e-mail

This story was not subject to the approval of Granville Homes.

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