By Taniel Koushakjian
On April 24, 2020 President Donald J. Trump issued the official White House statement on Armenian Genocide remembrance day “memorializing the lives lost during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Beginning in 1915, 1 and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. On this day of remembrance, we pay respect to those who suffered and lost their lives, while also renewing our commitment to fostering a more humane and peaceful world,” the White House statement read.
Hours after President Trump’s statement, former Vice President Joe Biden issued his April 24 statement. Like Trump, and Obama before him, Biden invoked the phrase Meds Yeghern which what Armenians call the Armenian Genocide. However, Biden’s statement went all the way, using the Armenian and English versions.
“Today we remember the atrocities faced by the Armenian people in the Metz Yeghern — the Armenian Genocide,” Biden said. “From 1915 to 1923, almost 2 million Armenians were deported en mass, and 1.5 million men, women, and children were killed. Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Arameans, Maronites, and other Christians were also targeted. We must never forget or remain silent about this horrific and systematic campaign of extermination. And we will forever respect the perseverance of the Armenian people in the wake of such tragedy,” the former Vice President said.
Biden served as Vice President to President Barack Obama from 2008-2016. Biden and Obama pledged to recognize the Armenian Genocide as President once they reached the White House in 2008. However, the Obama-Biden Administration broke it’s promise to the Armenian American community and stopped short of using the “g” word.
Biden’s statement today seems to be the only step left for the Democratic Party to win over Armenian American voters, in terms of a campaign pledge and an actual policy correction in the Executive Brach of the U.S. government.
Campaigning for President in 2016, Donald Trump did not issue a campaign statement to the Armenian American community. Since taking office, the Trump White House has continued to refer to the Ottoman Turkish murder of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 as “mass atrocities” but has stoped short of applying the proper legal name for what historians overwhelming acknowledge as the first genocide of the 20th century.
105th Anniversary Armenian Genocide Commemoration Cancelled due to Coronavirus, AGC Donates to Armenia
BOCA RATON, FL – The South Florida Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc. (AGC) has canceled this year’s annual April 24th Armenian Genocide commemorative program, AGC announced in an email.
“This year, in lieu of having a commemorative event, we have decided to assist Armenia in their fight against COVID-19,” AGC Chair Arsine Kaloustian said via email. “We will send a donation on behalf of AGC to the Armenia Fund. What better way to help Armenia but when she is in dire need,” she said.
AGC will donate $1,000 to Armenia Fund’s COVID-19 relief operations in Armenia, according to AGC. The coronavirus continues to spread in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. The Armenian government imposed a 30-day ‘State of Emergency’ on March 16, and announced a 10-day extension last week.
YEREVAN, ARMENIA – United States Ambassador to Armenia Lynne Tracy and Kansas Army National Guard Adjutant-General, Major General Lee Tafanelli, joined Armenia’s Minister of Defense Davit Tonoyan for the opening of the exhibit “The United States Military in the First Republic of Armenia 1919-1920” on January 27 at the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Defense in Yerevan.
Created by the Washington, D.C.-based Armenian National Institute, the new exhibit focuses on the enormous extent of humanitarian assistance rendered by the United States to Armenia in the aftermath of World War I through the services of American military missions sent to Armenia.
In his opening remarks, Minister Tonoyan thanked Ambassador Tracy for the support extended by the United States in recent years to Armenia. Reflecting on the historical exhibit, Tonoyan noted that: “For many, U.S. assistance during those years was critical, especially the new opportunities created to provide education thanks to which many Armenians received schooling during that difficult time and went on to make impressive achievements.”
Ambassador Tracy delivered welcoming remarks congratulating those present on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the Armenian Army and spoke about the important work done over the past 100 years.
U.S. General Tafanelli along with his delegation of officers viewed the exhibit and are in Yerevan as part of the U.S.-Armenia military partnership program.
Regional Director Arpi Vartanian, speaking on behalf of the Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian National Institute, pointed out the importance of the high level military mission that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson dispatched to Armenia and stressed their effective intervention in stabilizing the humanitarian crisis in the country despite the small size of the American contingents. She thanked as well Armenia’s servicemen on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the founding of Armenia’s modern-day army.
The 27-panel exhibit documents the tremendous importance of the U.S. humanitarian intervention during the most difficult years in the life of the newly-formed Armenian state. Based upon the photographic collection of an American medical officer, Dr. Walter P. Davenport, the exhibit reveals the depth and breadth of measures taken by U.S. military personnel to stabilize the humanitarian crisis in Armenia, and especially the caretaking of the most vulnerable part of the population through hospitals, orphanages, food distribution points, and other facilities.
Subtitled “The American Relief Administration and Walter Davenport of the U.S. Army Medical Corps,” the exhibit reveals how in 1919, U.S. military personnel and civilian aid workers cared for tens of thousands of children. As Dr. Davenport reported: “At the present time we are furnishing food and medical relief to 75,000 children daily, this work being done through the medium of orphanages, orphanage hospitals, soup kitchens, cocoa kitchens, milk stations, bread distributing points, orphanage infirmaries, and public dispensaries.”
The Davenport collection of photographs not only documents the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Armenia, but also the measurable difference American relief efforts made in the span of only a few months. The exhibit displays official and personal records related to Dr. Davenport’s activities in Armenia, which he subsequently reported in The Military Surgeon journal. With 103 photographs, 3 maps, 14 documents, and several newspaper articles, the exhibit pictorially reconstructs the conditions that U.S. military personnel witnessed in Armenia.
The digital version of the ANI exhibit is available on online and free to download from the ANI website where five other exhibits may be viewed. Designed for instructional purposes, the exhibits explain several aspects of the Armenian Genocide that were well documented photographically.