memories of international icons.
Take, for example, the widely celebrated Cinco de Mayo
festivities, marking the victory of the Mexican Army against Spain,
or the popular St. Patrick's Day festivities in honor of the 5th
century patron saint of Ireland. Regardless of race, creed or
religion, people are more than willing to pick up a beer and toast to
the fallen heroes of the past.
Unfortunately, we rarely show the same solidarity when
commemorating the tragedies of our past. Seldom do we as Americans
recognize the tragedies within our own history, including the
wide-scale loss of life among African Americans and Native Americans
during the founding days of our nation. Instead, we compartmentalize
that section of history and leave it to those who were most
immediately affected to honor the memories of the victims.
Jewish organizations and individuals are often left responsible
for Holocaust commemoration -- they host events, workshops, memorial
services, vigils -- all in an effort to educate, raise awareness and
honor the memories of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
And Armenians are equally responsible for reminding the world of
their own tragic past -- the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians
between 1915 and 1923.
Yet, genocides are not unfortunate events for one group or
another. The negative impact of these horrific atrocities is not
limited to one country or one region. The loss of life on such a
large scale is a loss for all mankind. A tragedy of that magnitude
tears families apart, destroys countries, erases cultures and
traditions and mars the history of humankind. And, even more tragic
than the loss of life itself is the unwillingness to commemorate the
victims, honor the heroes and recognize the culprits in an effort to
prevent future atrocities. The propaganda put forth by Turkish
lobbying agencies disputing the facts of the Armenian Genocide, as
well as our own acquiescent federal government, highlight this
unfortunate setback in our fight against injustice. As a survivor
once said, "Not recognizing the past is killing [the victims] twice."
In the face of such massive crimes and injustices to humanity, it
is important for us to show solidarity as humans. As Armenians, we
join in solidarity with our fellow Jews, Cambodians, Rwandans,
Sudanese and all other victims of man's inhumanity to man.
On April 24, we ask you -- our neighbors, friends, co-workers,
teachers, students, colleagues and peers -- to join us in
commemorating the loss of 1.5 million lives. Let us stand together in
honoring those who died and who fight together for those lives that
can still be saved.