Recognizing the Armenian genocide

by Alyssa Messikian, Contributing Writer

On October 29th, 2019, the United States House of Representatives passed H.Res 296 affirming that it is the official policy of the United States to commemorate and recognize the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Genocide was a systematic mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians which was carried out during World War I by the Ottoman Empire. For decades, Armenians and the diaspora have protested the recognition of this bill. After stalling in the Senate, the bill ultimately was approved by the Senate on Dec. 12, 2019. It was spearheaded by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. This marked the first official recognition of the Armenian genocide by the United States. President Trump, breaking from Congress’s resolution, nevertheless refused to recognize the Armenian genocide. However, for many in the Armenian community, we welcome Congress’s ruling with open arms.

For decades, grassroots Armenian political organization ANCA has pushed to have the Genocide recognized by the U.S., but Armenians that have been protesting were shut down due to political reasons that have nothing to do with the justice that our ancestors deserve. The House of Representatives held a vote and they voted, and they voted again, and again: 405 yeas to 10 nays. It is an unbelievable celebration of victory of justification and recognition of a crime held against our ancestors, my great-grandparents.

As an Armenian who was born in the United States, it has always been ingrained in me to remember what my ancestors have gone through. As a young girl, my parents would tell me stories of my great grandparents and how they suffered during the Genocide. When my family would pass down stories from the Genocide, and recount what happened to my great-grandparents, I would sit there and wonder as a young girl how I would survive watching my family members get killed, and walk through blazing deserts for weeks.

These are similar stories that Armenians around the globe share, which is how Armenians have such a strong bond no matter how far. On the 24th of April, Armenians everywhere commemorate the start of the Genocide in 1915. Not only will this year be the 105th anniversary of the beginning of an unforgettable Genocide, but it will also be very important considering how far we’ve come.

Throughout my childhood, I gradually realized how important it is to be part of the Armenian diaspora that fought for this bill to be recognized. As part of the Armenian American community, we are very thankful to have the opportunity to witness the bill and the Genocide being recognized by the United States in our lifetime. The journey is not over, but we are absolutely ready for the ride The last 100+ years have led us here and we are ready for our victory.