Letter: Put aside Differences and Try to Build Genocide Museum by Centennial

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To the Editor:

April 24, 2015 is the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, which is two-and-a-half years away. I am truly disappointed that a project that began quite a few years ago has not been built. In fact, I think that the Armenian community has to focus now on trying to get the Genocide Museum built in Washington, DC by the centennial.

Our adversary is not one of us but those who planned and executed the forced exo- dus of our surviving ancestors to live in exile.

Since there seems to be little or no transparency about this project, it is difficult for our communities to know what is going on and what is wrong at this time.

The facts, as I know it, are that basically it began as an Armenian Assembly project with the purchase of a bank building which was to be converted into a Genocide museum. A major benefactor who was an Assembly trustee purchased three small adjacent buildings in order to expand the museum space.

After the purchases, a group of us, under the auspices of the Assembly, toured the bank building. Looking inside on the first floor, I thought that the bank space for a museum that will serve the public seemed to be quite limited especially as a registered historical building which needs approval for changes to the original structure. I thought the additional square footage gained by the addition of the three small buildings was a big plus since it would enable visitors, a few or many, to be comfortably accommodated

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as well as to make public space available for many contemporary exhibits that would help odars as well as future generations understand their history and heritage.

“The forgotten genocide” may finally become general knowledge to fellow Americans and tourists from all over the world who visit the nation’s capital.

Let us shine a bright light on the museum project. If the two men involved are interviewed by an objective Armenian press, the democratic way, it should help the community understand the reasons for the delay in constructing the museum. Is a mediator needed to help resolve this dispute? The courts take too long. Can a group be assembled from benefactors and our major organizations who can work through any complicated details? Should the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum be the project of the Assembly alone? Should selected Armenians in the diaspora be included? The overwhelming majority of the diaspora are descended from the survivors of the Genocide.

In addition, the project is to memorialize our ancestors who rest in unmarked graves throughout Anatolia, Der-el Zor and God only knows where else. Let us not even wonder what our ancestors’ response would be about our inability or indifference to follow-through and complete the construction of this memorial located near the White House.

In April 2015, let us look at photos in newspapers showing dignitaries outside and hopefully inside the newly-constructed Genocide Museum in Washington DC.

— Sonia Hagopian Havertown, Penn.

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