NEW YORK—The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Eastern Region will be honoring the late United States Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) with its highest honor, the prestigious Freedom Award, at the Fourth Annual ANCA Eastern Region Banquet hosted by the ANCA-ER Endowment Fund on Sat., Dec. 4 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick, R.I.
“We are proud to be honoring Senator Kennedy,” said ANCA-ER Board chairman Stephen Mesrobian. “The Senator, as well as the extended Kennedy family, have been at the forefront of recognition of the Armenian Genocide for half a century.”
For over 46 years, Sen. Kennedy was an ardent advocate of Armenian American concerns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and nationally. From ensuring that the United States honestly addressed the issue of the Armenian Genocide to speaking out on the right of self-determination for the people of Nagorno-Karabagh, Kennedy championed truth, justice, and the principles of freedom so cherished by the Armenian American community.
Kennedy co-sponsored every Armenian Genocide Resolution introduced in the Senate beginning with S.Res.242 in 1983. He was at the forefront of passage by the Senate Committee on Judiciary of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, S. J. Res. 212, on Oct. 17, 1989. Ultimately, this resolution, which was introduced by Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), failed to garner enough votes on the floor of the Senate for passage.
Kennedy hosted a dinner for former Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossian at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston in 1994 and also hosted His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians, at the Kennedy Library in 1996.
The Senator attended several ANCA Capitol Hill commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, and spoke eloquently on the floor of the Senate during annual remembrances.
On June 30, 1999, Kennedy spoke in support of the McConnell-Abraham Amendment, which maintained Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act prohibiting military assistance from being sent to Azerbaijan.
On July 1, 1999, Kennedy recalled his friendship with His Holiness Karekin I during a tribute on the floor of the Senate where he stated, “I was proud to call His Holiness my friend. He was an inspiration to all who knew him. He was loved and respected by the Armenian people the world over, and his courage, intelligence, wisdom, and compassion were renowned in international religious circles.”
As a mark of his longstanding bond with the Armenian American community, in April 2000, Kennedy delivered the keynote address at the 85th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Boston.
In a June 2006 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Kennedy joined with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to address the dismissal of U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John M. Evans over his use of the word “genocide” to describe the atrocities of 1915. Throughout 2006, the ANCA led a nationwide campaign to call attention to this matter and demand that the State Department offer a complete explanation surrounding the controversial firing of Evans, and clarify the Turkish government’s influence in his removal.
Since the ANCA began issuing Congressional Report Cards, Kennedy consistently received an A rating for his outstanding commitment to issues of concern to the Armenian American community.
Edward M. Kennedy was born on Feb. 22, 1932 into the most famous American political dynasty of the 20th century. His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., was the inaugural chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. His brother John was the 35th president of the United States and had tutored an Armenian student during his years at Harvard University in the mid-1930’s. Another brother, Robert, served as attorney general and also pursued the presidency. In 1962, he was elected to the United States Senate in a special election, and subsequently was reelected to eight full terms, becoming the fourth longest serving Senator in U.S. history.
Kennedy served as Senate majority whip, chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, and most recently, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions where he championed universal healthcare.
Kennedy died on Aug. 25, 2008. Surviving him are his wife, Vickie, three children, Ted, Kara, and Patrick, a U.S. Representative from Rhode Island, and two step-children, Curran and Caroline.
Every year, close to 300 Armenian American community members and leaders join prominent Members of Congress, statewide officials, and state legislators for the ANCA Eastern Region Annual Banquet. The 2010 banquet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception and silent auction, with the formal program beginning at 8 p.m.
For more information about the ANCA Banquet, call Garo Manjikian at (917) 428-1918 or visit www.anca.org/erbanquet to purchase tickets.