WASHINGTON — The Armenian Assembly of America, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), and Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and David Valadao (R-CA), held a press conference on November 18 at the National Press Club to mark the opening of the Armenian Orphan Rug exhibit. The Armenian Orphan Rug, gifted to US President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 by orphaned girls of the Armenian Genocide, is on public display at the White House Visitor Center, November 18-23.
“This treasured artifact should be proudly displayed – not only this week, but permanently – to ensure that the lessons of the past are not forgotten and that the heroic efforts of America’s diplomats are remembered and honored,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny during the press conference. “We thank Congressmen Schiff and Valadao for their leadership on Armenian issues, and we thank all Members gathered here today on this historic occasion,” Ardouny said.
Addressing the standing-room-only crowd of reporters, members of Congress, and Armenian-American community members, Valadao opened the press conference. “My Congressional district is home to a very large Armenian population that has a very strong presence in our community,” he said. “The Armenian Orphan Rug is a shared piece of American and Armenian history that should be available to the public. I am excited my colleagues and I were able to help secure a public display of the rug,” Valadao said.
Schiff spoke forcefully about the historic significance of the carpet. He called it a “tangible connection to the first genocide of the 20th century — a silent, beautiful rebuttal to those who deny the murder of 1.5 million men, woman and children in a campaign of mass murder, forced marches, rape and looting that befell the Armenian people from 1915 to 1923.”
Schiff then reminded the audience of the events that led to the rug’s creation, and how it inspired a new generation of American philanthropy that was unprecedented at the time. “As the world prepares to commemorate the centennial of the genocide, the Ghazir Rug brings to life the shattered families and the mass inhumanity that was visited upon the Armenian people. And I hope that it can serve to educate a new generation of Americans about one of the great tragedies of history and leads to a redoubling of efforts in 2015 to finally, and forever, honor the genocide of the Armenians without equivocation. One hundred years is a long time to wait and the Armenian people should not have to wait any longer,” Schiff said.