BOCA RATON, FL – On Tuesday, April 16, a group of local and national human rights activists, community leaders, elected officials, religious leaders, teachers and students gather in Sanborn Square for “Together We Remember: The Future of Our Past,” reported Florida Armenians.
David Estrin, Founder and CEO of Together We Remember, organized the second annual universal commemoration program in Boca Raton. “April is Genocide Awareness Month,” Estrin said. “So it’s important that we all come together this time of year to commemorate our past and take action for the future,” he said.
The program began with the reading of names of victims of various genocides, including the Armenian Genocide, as well as victims of hatred, bigotry, discrimination and gun violence in the world. Arsine Kaloustian, Chairwoman of the South Florida Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc. (AGC) read the names of genocide victims. Lonny Wilk, Senior Associate Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League-Florida read the names of victims of hatred, bigotry, discrimination and gun violence. A local student from the Boca Raton Interfaith Youth Association read the names of lynching victims in Florida.
Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), whose district includes the cities of Boca Raton and Parkland, gave the keynote address. His remarks focused on the meaning of “Never Again” today and how individuals learn from one another and take collective action.
The program also featured musical interludes from Shine MSD, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The program also featured an expert panel of religious leaders, community activists, and academics who discussed their respective community’s experience with genocide, violence, and hatred. Panelists included Liz Vocasek, Associate Education Director, Anti-Defamation League-Florida; Rev. Fr. Andrew Sherman, Pastor of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church of Boca Raton, Florida; Taniel Koushakjian, Editor of FLARMENIANS.com; Darren Levine, Teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; and Rabbi Leonid Feldman, Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, Florida. The panel was moderated by Antonella Regueiro, Assistant Professor at Lynn University.
To conclude the program, participants were encourage to take action in their own way. Some took action by writing to their elected officials from their smart phones. Others shared stories and pictures on social media to amplify the message. Some pledged to write letters to their local newspapers.
At the end, everyone listened to the stories of each other, engaged with people they had never met, and people came together to say in one voice: “We Remember” and “Never Again.”
For more photos, check out the Florida Armenians Facebook Page Photo Album.