PROVIDENCE, RI—This year’s commemoration of the Armenian Genocide was immensely bittersweet. Mourning the lives lost in the 1915 Armenian Genocide is always emotionally draining, and the attacks unleashed by Azerbaijan and Turkey on Artsakh and Armenia last fall only make the losses feel more momentous. However, when news spread that President Biden acknowledged the Genocide by its true name on the 106th anniversary, I was filled with more hope and excitement than I have allowed myself in months. I distinctly remember the conversations I would have during lectures at Junior Seminar where we would be asked to consider whether or not we thought we would live to see the United States’ formal recognition of the Genocide. My takeaway was not to let my hopes exceed realism; prepare for the worst, while hoping for the best. We promised those before us that we would never let our efforts wane, even in times of distress, and President Biden afforded us the respect of following through on his promise to us in a way that no other US President has done before. It was an honor to witness the historic moment with my community.
On Saturday, I participated in the march through downtown Providence to the RI State House hosted by the Providence “Varantian” AYF Chapter. It’s an event I had been anticipating all month, and God blessed us with a truly gorgeous day for it. Greeting familiar faces, old and new, along Armenia Street at Sts. Vartanantz Church was a joy, and the energy was visibly high. I was also touched when my dear friend Sarah, who is not Armenian, accepted my invitation to walk in solidarity with us. Sarah’s view of the Armenian experience is limited to what she has learned from me, so it was especially meaningful to have her with us on this historic day.
Along our nearly five-mile walk, we received more support from bystanders and locals than I have ever recalled in years past. Chants led by AYF member Rosdom Mkrtschjan on the megaphone inspired our Armenian patriotism as we turned our attention to reparations and restitution now that our calls for US recognition had been finally granted.
This year, we get to relish this victory. It’s not everything, but it’s something. The fight for justice continues.
Saturday’s march received local news coverage from WJAR, Channel 10. Providence ARF Kristapor Gomideh Chairman and ANC-RI member Paulie Haroian and the AYF’s Nareg Mkrtschjan were interviewed.