CHICAGO, Ill. (A.W.)—In commemorating the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Greater Chicagoland Armenian Community took an active in role in embracing our tragic history, culture, and faith.
On April 22, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Chicago Christapor gomideyutiun organized a viewing of the highly anticipated film The Promise, with members, families, and supporters. An excited and proud crowd filled the seats of the theater. In addition to the ARF’s organized viewing, the Armenian Relief Society ARS “Zabelle” chapter, the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) “Ararat” chapter as well as the Hamazkayin Cultural and Educational Society of Chicago organized viewings amongst its memberships, families, and supporters.
Following the viewing of the film, ARF members and various community members enjoyed breaking bread together at a local restaurant.
On April 23, the Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church, hosted the Third United Commemoration Service. Participating churches included, Armenian Evangelical Church of Chicago, St. James Armenian Church, St. Gregory’s Armenian Church, and Saint Joachim and Anne Armenian Apostolic Church. The service was attended by over 400 parishioners and for the first time, streamed live on YouTube, with views from Armenian, Lebanon, Syria as well as different parts of North America.
Following services the Armenian National Committee of Illinois (ANC-IL) held a memorial program in front of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration monument. ANC-IL chairman Raffi Killian served as Master of Ceremonies. “I struggled to craft a message appropriate for the occasion; one that was unique and offered something different for our community members and guests; essentially trying to put today’s significance in a context different than what has been said before. But that was nearly impossible – the simple and harsh reality is that we have been commemorating and asking for justice for 100 years – so I don’t know what else I can say that has not already been said over the years except this: the struggle for justice is real and never-ending and the only way we achieve success is by more involvement, more commitment and more dedication,” Killian said. He also strongly urged the crowd to make every effort to see The Promise, in addition to encouraging their non-Armenian friends to do the same.
Other speakers included Illinois State Representative Laura Fine, representing the 17th Representative District; Raja Krishnamoorthi, the congressman representing Illinois’ 8th Congressional District; Brad Schneider, congressman, representing the 10th Congressional district; and Endy Zemenides, Executive Director, Hellenic American Leadership Council. Opening remarks were delivered by Hayr Ghevont Pentezian pastor of Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church in Glenview, Ill. The state of Illinois also provided a Proclamation, recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Following the ANC Commemoration program, guests were invited into the community center for lunch, prepared by the Ladies Guild.
On April 24, the AYF Chicago “Ararat” Chapter organized a peaceful protest front of the Turkish Consulate. Over 130 protestors made their voices heard in the city of Chicago. Members of the Greek and Assyrian communities also joined the protest.