Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Email: [email protected]
April 30, 2004
CONTACT: David Zenian
E-mail: [email protected]
ASSEMBLY ACTIVISTS MARK ARMENIAN GENOCIDE DAY IN WASHINGTON
Washington, DC — Armenian activists from across the United States, in
Washington for the Assembly’s National Conference and Banquet, gathered for
a memorial service at the Bethlehem Chapel of the National Cathedral April
18th to commemorate the 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
The hour-long inter-denominational service was organized by Diocean Legate
Bishop Vicken Aykazian and joined by the Archbishop of Baltimore Cardinal
William H. Keeler, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches
Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, the Rabbi of B’nai Israel Congregation Mathew Simon,
Vicar of the Washington National Cathedral Right Rev. A. Theodore Eastman,
pastor of St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church Father Vertanes Kalaydjian, the
St. Mary Church choir and Orthodox, Presbyterian and Armenian clergy.
The deeply moving and emotional service for the repose of souls,
Hokehankist, which this year coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day, or
Yom HaShoah, was also a celebration of life and a reflection of the unity of
purpose and values shared by inter-faith communities in the United States.
The congregation, many of whom traveled hundreds and even thousands of miles
to Washington, heard Cardinal Keeler, Rev. Dr. Edgar and Rabbi Simon speak
of their personal experiences and understanding of the Armenian Genocide.
The more than 250 participants in the Genocide memorial service included
members of the Assembly, the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the
Eastern and Western Diocese of the Armenian Church — the cooperating
partners of the Assembly’s April 18-20 National Conference and Banquet.
In his brief address, Rabbi Simon said it was no coincidence that this
solemn day in the history of the Armenian people this year coincided with
the Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“On July 16, 1915, nine decades ago, the American Ambassador to the Ottoman
Empire sent a telegram to the secretary of State in Washington warning
America that a ‘campaign of race extermination is in progress against
peaceful Armenians.’ In the language of the Torah, ‘Your brother’s blood is
crying …’ Yet the crying has continued through the decades. Sadly it shall
until we learn the correct answer to God’s first question: ‘Where is your
brother Abel?’ and the answer is, we are our ‘brother’s keeper’,” Rabbi
In his homily, Cardinal Keeler said it was not until his visit two years ago
to Armenia and a tour of the Genocide Memorial on the hills overlooking
Yerevan that he fully understood the magnitude of what the Armenians endured
in the early years of the 20th century.
“We now reflect together on one of the most tragic events of the 20th
century, the terrible slaughter of so many Armenians in what is aptly
described as genocide, one of the number of events in Armenian history that
brought so many to martyrdom,” Cardinal Keeler said.
In his own homily, Rev. Dr. Edgar underlined the importance of learning from
the lessons of the Genocide to avoid future injustice and bloodshed.
“It is important for us to remember what happened in 1915 to Armenians, what
happened 10 years ago to Rwandans and what will inevitably happen over and
over again. If we do not speak out against injustice wherever it might be
found, history will repeat itself. We have to always ask: When will we ever
learn?” Rev. Dr. Edgar said.
The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.