The last 7 days have been a gust of events, media, political battles and personal. It all started with the Capitol Hill Observance of the Armenian Genocide.
Last Wednesday, over 500 Armenians from all over the US, Cali to Boston, attended the all-organization sponsored event hosted by the Armenian Caucus co-chairs Cong. Frank Pallone and Cong. Joe Knollenberg. An enless line of Senators and Congressmen dropped by to share their support. But something interesting began to happen that night. I noticed more language coming from Congressmen on reparations. It was subtle at first, but noted. I covered the floor taking shots all night and my legs felt the effects the next day... wanna keep your legs in shape? Become a photographer.
As I mentioned before, Senator John Kerry was the highlight of the evening as he swept in, delivered a passionate speech, and received a roaring standing ovation for his support. But there were quite a few other appearances that moved me. First, Senator Sarbanes spoke from the heart while the crowd shared their appreciation for his long support throughout his terms. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi also spoke reaffirming the importance of genocide recognition.
I was also very moved by Henry Morgenthau III's speech as he opened expressing that he believes his is an honorary Armenian. There's no doubt in my mind he is. Of course, he is the grandson of Ambassador Morgenthau who wrote extensively about the Genocide while it was taking place. The entire family was there, kids and all, and they were very respectful to everyone there.
The night ended on a positive note with the promise of all our Congressmen to continue the fight with us and that our involvement is key to nailing it home.
The 90 hour vigil began on Thursday as ACYOA gathered volunteers to sit infront of the Turkish Embassy around the clock. The entire community joined them on Friday afternoon for our annual demonstration.
From there, everyone continued to the Armenian Embassy for a wreath-laying ceremony. As the rain wrapped up the events for us a bit early, we rushed over to church for a family madagh dinner... not a real madagh, but symbolic. Throughout all the events that took place, we met a couple guys working on a documentary for PBS that tagged along.
But the big event of course was the Rally in Times Square. They say about 10,000 people filled the intersection of the world. I remember my younger days when we used to go to this event. The streets were filled with Armenians, you recognized every other person in the crowd, and there were big huge signs the size of every other billboard with the words: "RECOGNIZE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE!" There we were in the center of the world, where eyes around the world are watching 24/7 and we filled every corner with signs and people.
The speeches were notable again, as I saw the trend continue. Senator Schumer started the rally with strong messages of genocide recognition and punishment for Turkey's crimes. Pallone continued to nail home the point of recognition, reparations and restitution. I had a tear in my eye.
But unfortunately it wasn't all positive on Sunday. Simultaneously, Turks were gathered in Washington, DC to protest us back, making reduculous statements that Armenians and Greeks killed 3 million Turks and that Armenia is connected to Al Qaeda. Come on guys, are you serious? Take a look at Patrick Sarkissians very important website: http://www.sarkissianmason.com/denial/
But on a brighter note, 6000 people, mostly non-Armenian, gathered in LA for the Souls 2005 concert: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1500738/20050425/index.jhtml?headlines=true
I do have to say that I'm very disappointed on the lack of news coverage of all the events that took place around the world with the participation of millions of Armenians everyone. The next day, I was listening to NPR expecting some mention. Instead they started talking about the battle of Gallipoli on April 25, 1915 where 150,000 British and French troops died, which by the way got WAY more media coverage than the Armenian Genocide where 1,5000,000 PEOPLE WERE SYSTEMATICALLY SLAUGHTERED! http://www.turks.us/article.php?story=20050427060739389
Needless to say, I sent my complaints, but this is rediculous. My co-workers were asking me why they haven't heard anything about it. I'm not sure if they would have believed me that so many people were in Times Square if I didn't show them the photos. But I'm not sure why I expect so much from media when it's obvious that reporting has lost its credibility in this country.
Though all the events came to an end, it's becoming more evident that this is a significant year in the turn of America's policy on this issue. Rep. Radonovich said himself that he sees hope for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as the US is slowly turning away from its dependency on Turkey. As Iraq stabilizes and the need for Turkish bases deminishes, the day for recognition will come. There's also concern that this issue is being used as a political tool... that's the sick reality of it all, but the worst part is that the US is getting what they want out of waving this issue in Turkey's face. Sure I'm disgusted, but no more than I am that it happened in the first place and has been denied for 90 years.
Now some personal reflection. I've never felt so strongly about the need for Armenia to gain the three "R"s (recognition, etc.). This feeling is not just reaffirmed by the unified sentiment of the Armenian community, but also by the support of the world... Superman marched with us in LA (Dean Cain), more politicians are coming forward with strong statements, the world (despite media's lack of coverage) is paying attention as Turkey's need to join the EU is revealing it's dirty secrets. As events repeat themselves in Darfur, it's more evident today that this is a neccessary problem we need to address. Our neglect to intervene in Genocide is costing the human race and denial will only lead to a future of repeated crimes against humanity. On a more personal note, I want to go to Van one day and feel that I am on my homeland where my grandfather was born... it's that simple.
I will be posting all my photos on my website this weekend and will post a reminder.