Unfortunately my other news is very sad. This past weekend I attended a funeral for my Godfather's Father Levon Kaftarian, a Genocide Survivor who passed away at the age of 100. The positive thing I can offer is that he lived a remarkable life. He walked everywhere, he did everything for himself to the last minute and you couldn't take that away from him if you tried. He took the bus every Sunday to get to church, even though it would take him 4 hours to get there. He never complained, never asked for favors, insisted that he walk everywhere so he could get his exercise and keep active. In fact, I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate me logging about him this way.
The inspirational aspect of his life for me was that he would show up EVERY year to the April 24th Demonstrations infront of the Armenian Embassy. He also showed up on Capitol Hill every year for the Genocide Observance to show the Congressmen and Senators exactly who it is we are fighting for... or against. According to his grandchildren, a week before his passing, he mentioned that he hoped to live long enough to attend one more demonstration. I once found him walking to the bus station after the demonstration in pooring rain all alone and I insisted that he let me drive him home... the furthest he would let me take him was the nearest Metro sitation.
This year, three genocide survivors in the Washington region (that I know of) passed away. This particular man touched me the most because I grew up with him and was touched by his immesurable integrity. The sad reality is that it wont be long before we commemorate the Armenian Genocide without one single person who experienced it. I think we will feel the impact when the next generation learns about the Armenian Genocide purely through books and second hand stories. I know there are people out there who made the effort of recording these valuable individuals telling there stories. I can't stress how important it is to distribute these documents on a wide spread level so that the faces, the names, the eye witness accounts be passed on to at least every generation that experiences the denial of the Armenian Genocide.
This is the 90th folks. This is the time to fight year round. Let's bombard the media with the truth about the Genocide, let's take to the streets and shout to the public, let's march up to congress and demand justice, let's not waver in the face of denial. There is no doubt the Turkish government is feeling the pressure. The Wall Street Journal just published an article tearing Turkey to shreds, the New York Times and Boston Globe have changed their policy on using the word "genocide" to describe the event, as opposed to "alleged" as in the past, support on the Hill is growing, the debate is moving away from the legitimacy of it beling classified as "genocide" to... well, the leadership is just preventing debate at all, but let's use an example. Last summer, one of my interns visited his congressmen, Rep. Wexler who happens to be the Turkish Caucus Chairman who repressents Turkey more than his district in Florida. In the meeting the intern talked about his concerns regarding the Armenian Genocide and the congressmen didn't even deny that it was a genocide, rather he argued why we shouldn't bring it up right now and that we need to approach relations with Turkey in a different way (by the way, one of the most insulting things I ever heard... we know they commit Genocide on your people, but let's forget about it so that Turkey and the US can benefit and you guys can just be our puppets). Also recently on... Meet the Press I think... Rumsfeld stated that one of the things he wish happened differently with the war in Iraq was how things were handled in Turkey. He regrets that so many American soldiers had to die because of Turkey's decision to close that border to us. For once, I agree with the man.
These things are happening and we need to nail it home this year. They know it's coming, they are expecting it. Some say they wish Mr. Kaftarian could be here with us this year. I think he will be in spirit. But it is because of him that we need to shout louder, to show more numbers, to join together as ONE community in our message to the world. We're doing it in New York, we're doing it in DC. Now everyone needs to show up.
I'll be taking the community bus up from DC to New York shuttling the masses. I hope to see ALL of you there.