Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.

Truth, Justice and Remembrance Prevail in Times Square


By Taleen Babayan

NEW YORK — The vow to Keep the Promise was in full effect on Sunday, April 23 as an impressive number gathered in Times Square to remember the 1.5 million martyrs and pay homage to their legacy, proving that the Armenian Genocide commemorations have only gained momentum since the centennial.

Children from the Hovnanian School

The relevant and inspiring program, organized by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan since 1985, once again attracted thousands of supporters who waved tricolor flags of Armenia and Artsakh in the heart of New York City as the past was remembered and a renewed effort was made to strengthen the Armenian Diaspora and the homeland.

Steadfast supporters of the Armenian Genocide were once again in attendance to speak, particularly committed elected officials, including Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who acknowledged the accomplishments of the Armenian Diaspora in championing genocide recognition around the world.

“Recognition will happen if all of you continue to march, write letters and take action,” said Pallone, founder of the Congressional Caucus of Armenian Issues, who recently introduced a new resolution for the US Congress to recognize the genocide.

Pallone remarked that conflict in Armenia and Artsakh is ongoing, recognizing the war there last year and warned that although the genocide was over 100 years ago, violence is still being used against the Armenian people.

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“Continue your efforts,” urged Pallone. “You being here today helps with genocide recognition and we as a people must speak out against genocide wherever it occurs.”

A fellow member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian issues, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) promised to “confront a stubborn resistance.”

She said all nations have a responsibility to recognize the systemic extermination of the Armenians and that until the resolution is passed to recognize the Armenian Genocide in the US, “we will not stop.”

Appearing every year without fail, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is the current Senate Minority Leader, pledged to “stand with all of you in acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and nothing less.”

He praised the energy and collective spirit of Armenians a century after the massacres and hailed the production of the major motion picture, “The Promise,” that “finally shines a light on this story and puts it in the mainstream for all to see.”

Honoring the memory of his late friend Sam Azadian, founder of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Times Square, Schumer said he attends the commemoration every year “because I believe it is our duty to speak out for the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide.”

“The Armenian Genocide was the first Holocaust of the 20th century but not the last,” said Schumer. “These events are a stain on humanity and I stand with all of you today to remember the pain of the past.”

David Phillips, who worked towards reconciliation with Armenia and Turkey as former chair of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC), said he always believed that “hard problems can be solved through hard dialogue.”

“But dialogue is impossible if one side wants to humiliate the other,” said Phillips, noting the efforts of Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan towards reconciliation, while Turkey’s then Prime Minister Recep Erdogan reneged on their discussions.

“It takes two to talk,” said Phillips, who is currently the director of the Peace-building and Rights Program at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. “But Erdogan is not reconciliatory,”

He called for Washington to investigate Erdogan for war crimes “to lay the groundwork for accountability.”

“Your work and presence here today is so important,” said Phillips. “For the Armenians today in Nagorno Karabakh, for the Yazidis in Iraq and for all who suffer from crimes against humanity.”

Urging the next generation to take genocide recognition into their own hands, celebrity attorney Mark Geragos told the thousands of young people at the commemoration to “go outside the political process to create a movement to never forget.”

“If you as the next generation don’t keep the promise, we are doomed to repeat it.”

Geragos remarked that Turkey spends millions of dollars to “cover up and perpetuate a lie” and the following generations need to do their part to continue the fight for justice and remembrance.

Knights of Vartan Grand Commander Steven Kradjian and Daughters of Vartan Grand Matron Sona Manuelian recognized and honored Olympic wrestler Mihran Arutyunyan and MMA champion Albert Ghazaryan, along with their coach Hayk Ghukasyan with special Knights of Vartan medals for their accomplishments in sports.

Dr. Rachel Goshgarian, professor of history at Lafayette College and Armen McOmber, New Jersey attorney, served as MCs for the program.

Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, gave the invocation and Very Rev. Vazken Karayan, pastor of Holy Cross Armenian Church, representing Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), offered the benediction. Other clergy in attendance included Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, vicar general of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.

The winners of this year’s Knights of Vartan Essay Contest were announced at the program: Raffi Salbashian, first place, Stephan Havatian, second place, and Samantha Khorozian, third place.

The Hovnanian Armenian Day School students sang the national anthems of the United States and Armenia, as well as God Bless America.

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