BOSTON, Mass.—Each April members of the Armenian community in Massachusetts fill the House Chamber at the State House to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. This year’s event will take place on Fri., April 20, at 10:30 a.m., with a full program of speakers, honorees, and music.
The event is both solemn and celebratory, recognizing the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 by the Ottoman-Turkish government, while honoring survivors and looking forward as Armenian American descendants commit themselves to preserving their culture and working for humanitarian projects and awareness.
Delivering the keynote address to over 350 attendees will be Khatchig Mouradian, a journalist, writer, and translator. Mouradian is the editor of the Armenian Weekly newspaper; the program coordinator of Rutgers University Center of Genocide, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights; and a Ph.D. candidate in Holocaust and genocide studies at Clark University.
Joint House/Senate Resolutions will be awarded to local playwright and lecturer Joyce Van Dyke, whose recent play “Deported/A Dream Play,” is the story of her own grandmother, and to former state Senator Steven Tolman. Performers will include students of the Armenian Sisters’ Academy and St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School, and Haig Hovsepian on violin accompanied by Ani Hovsepian.
“This is my 12th year participating in this program,” said Tsoleen Sarian, who is chairing and coordinating the organizing committee. “This event honors my grandparents and all survivors by calling out human rights atrocities for those who don’t have a voice. We also recognize the many generations who contribute to society and our local communities here in Massachusetts.” Sarian works closely with state Rep. Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown), state Rep. John Lawn (D-Watertown), and state Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont), who host the day.
“Massachusetts should be proud that we set aside a day each year at the State House to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” said Hecht. “Many people may not be aware that the U.S. Congress has yet to recognize formally this genocide, though there are renewed and ongoing bi-partisan efforts to pass a resolution in Washington, and many in our local community–both Armenians and non-Armenians–are working towards that end.”
“The energy put into this event demonstrates the devotion of the entire Armenian American community, and the many friends of that community, to the commemoration and recognition of the genocide,” said Brownsberger.
“Watching youth perform at the commemoration is particularly enjoyable,” said Lawn. “It’s also symbolic of the commitment by Armenian Americans to pass on their culture—whether it be language, music, song, or dance, and to teach children about their history and the importance of human rights.”
A light reception will follow the program. The late Speaker George Keverian began the annual commemoration at the State House in 1985.
Buses to the State House will leave at 9 a.m. from the St. James and St. Stephen’s Churches in Watertown. The bus service is donated by the Knights of Vartan, Ararat Lodge No. 1, and is free. Buses will return from the State House at 1:30 p.m.