State House Armenian Genocide Commemoration April 19:
Marching Forth for Recognition
BOSTON — Each April for the past 28 years, members of the Armenian community along with state legislators and guests have filled the House Chamber at the State House to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. This year marks the 98th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the commemoration will take place on Friday, April 19 at 10:30 a.m. with a program of speakers and honorees. Following the ceremony and pending final permitting, attendees will be invited to participate in a newly organized march from the State House to Armenian Heritage Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway for additional remarks, music, and a catered lunch. The march will include a stop along the way to place a wreath at The New England Holocaust Memorial.
The event is both solemn and celebratory, recognizing the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 by the Ottoman Turkish government, as well as honoring survivors and looking forward as Armenian American descendants commit themselves to preserving their culture and working for humanitarian projects and awareness.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans, who served from 2006-2008, will deliver the keynote address. Armenian Heritage Park architect Donald Tellalian will be honored with a Joint House and Senate Resolution. Dedicated in May of 2012, the park is a gift to Boston and the Commonwealth from the Massachusetts Armenian-American community. The split dodecahedron abstract sculpture which rests atop a 16-foot diameter reflecting pool is designed to be reconfigured each year and symbolizes those who were pulled apart from their country but reestablished themselves in different ways. Visitors to the park can also walk a labyrinth that reflects the journey of life.
“We are very excited this year to introduce the march from the State House to the Armenian Heritage Park,” said Belmont resident Lalig Musserian who is coordinating this year’s celebration along with a commemoration committee working closely with state Representatives Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown), Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge), and John Lawn (D-Watertown), and state Senator Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont) who host the day. “The march expresses the ongoing work of recognizing the Armenian Genocide and our desire to reach out to others and build awareness that as a world community we must work to prevent the horrors of genocide.”
Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray will present survivors of the Genocide with proclamations at the State House ceremony. “President Harry Truman once said, ‘the only thing new in this world is the history you don’t know’ so it is imperative that we understand our history to gain a clearer perspective on the world today,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. “As we remember the Armenian Genocide and the lives lost from this horrific act, let this be another opportunity to learn our history, prepare the next generation to speak out against hate and violence, and build a stronger community for our Commonwealth.”
Through the “Stand Up For Your Survivor” program organized by Arlington High School senior Anahis Kechejian, photographs of survivors replicated on posters will be displayed in the House Chamber by attendees. “There are so few survivors left,” said Kechejian, “This is one way for descendants to honor our ancestors, and for youth such as myself to pledge our efforts to work for justice and preserve our Armenian heritage.”
The participation of youth is an integral part of the commemoration. Members of the Homenetmen Scout Troop will attend, as will students from the Armenian Sisters’ Academy and St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School, who will perform music at the State House. Martin Haroutunian and Tigran Avetisyan will perform at the Heritage Park.
“To see our youth involved in this event is particularly meaningful to me,” said Representative Hecht. “They are our bridge to the future and our hope that such atrocities will never take place again. The late Speaker George Keverian, who began the annual commemoration at the State House in 1985, would be pleased to see the program has now extended beyond the State House with this year’s march.”
“When the posters of survivors are held high in the House Chamber for all to see, it reminds us of a history that must be recognized and remembered, and calls us to the importance of working for human rights,” said Senator Brownsberger. “I look forward to all ages marching together.”
“The march to the park is a wonderful addition to the commemoration,” said Representative Lawn. “This is a visible way of showing the pride in history and culture of Armenian Americans as they strive for recognition of the Genocide.”
“It is time for recognition of the Armenian Genocide. As a newly elected state representative I look forward to hosting the Commemoration and advancing this worthy cause for years to come,” said Representative Rogers.
Free buses to the State House, provided generously by the Knights of Vartan, will leave St. James and St. Stephen’s Churches in Watertown at 9:00 a.m. Bus transportation will be provided to anyone who is unable to march from the State House to the Heritage Park. In the case of inclement weather the march will not take place and a reception will be held at the Great Hall of the State House. Buses will depart Heritage Park at the conclusion of the program at 2 p.m. and return directly to Watertown.
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