HAVERHILL, Mass.—An auditorium filled with 300 members of the junior class at Haverhill High School heard the story of the Armenian Genocide on April 14, capping off a rather ambitious curriculum on human rights education instituted throughout the year. The event highlighted a 99th anniversary observance that was followed the next day by the Greater Haverhill Armenian community at the Armenian Apostolic Church at Hye Pointe.
Students were enamored by an assortment of questions surrounding the genocide and other pogroms throughout history, including the Jewish Holocaust and Rwanda.
The program was sponsored by the Armenian Genocide Education Committee of Merrimack Valley, led by Dr. Ara Jeknavorian and Chairman Dro Kanayan.
“Our students learned a great deal about Armenian history, much of which hasn’t been duly recorded in history books,” said instructor Jay Levine. “Despite our differences and ethnic diversity, we must learn to share common ground and respect one another’s culture and heritage.”
On a day marked by strong winds and heavy rain, Haverhill Armenians gathered inside their church for a short memorial service led by Rev. Fr. Vart Gyozalian, followed by the presentation of a city-wide proclamation by Mayor James J. Fiorentini.
“The commemoration of this terrible blight on humanity at the hands of the Ottoman Empire serves to remind free people everywhere that peace and freedom from oppression should not be accepted in a casual manner,” Mayor Fiorentini said.
“We should all give thanks to the martyrs who gave their lives so that their heritage would survive and be part of a foundation for a better society,” he added.
A reception followed in the mayor’s chambers. Organizing the arrangements was mayoral aide Barbara Arthur.
The proclamation was read at a meeting of the City Council, which was aired on Haverhill Community TV. The Armenian tricolor was flown from City Hall during the week of April 20.
A more conclusive observance will be planned for the Centennial next year.