PROVIDENCE, RI—On Sunday, April 28, 2019, the Armenian Martyrs’ Memorial Committee of Rhode Island commemorated the 104th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Because of rain, the service was held in the Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church.
The program opened with the presentation of the flags by the Homenetmen Scouts. Wreaths were placed by the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA), Armenian Relief Society (ARS) “Arax” and “Ani” Chapters, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), Homenetmen and Hamazkayin. Local reverend clergy performed a special service in memory of the 1.5 million holy martyrs.
Keynote speaker Stephen Kurkjian, former Boston Globe editor and investigative reporter, explained that he is now concentrating on his family history and what happened to his family and the Armenians during and after the Armenian Genocide and how they survived in this land of opportunity.
Kurkjian spoke about his journey with his father a quarter century ago to the village of Keghi where he was born. His father had not been back to the homeland since 1915. His father’s two uncles were assassinated, while his family was among thousands driven out of their homes. He survived as a three year old because his mother protected him on their 300 mile-trek to safety.
Kurkjian said we should “continue to demand recognition of what happened to our ancestors.” Instead of talking about the failures of Turkey and the United States, Kurkjian focused on the governments that now recognize the Armenian Genocide including 49 US states; Portugal and Italy adopted resolutions this year.
Kurkjian also reflected on the one year anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. He urged guests to look to Armenia as the next challenge and tasked the youth to support the homeland with their command of technology and their demand for transparency. “If our parents and grandparents did their job in getting us here, we owe it to them to bring fulfillment – seeds of hope – to the land where their roots and our roots remain,” said Kurkjian to a standing ovation.
There was also a sizable group of elected officials present: United States Senator Jack Reed and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman David N. Cicilline, Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, State Representative Katherine Kazarian, Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Attorney General Peter Neronha.