The Republican, MA
April 25 2005
Armenians recall 1915 genocide
Monday, April 25, 2005
By PATRICIA NORRIS
SPRINGFIELD – While Nevart Simmon’s mother rocked in her rocking
chair, stories of the Armenian genocide tumbled from her lips.
“My mother would cry. She would take me and my sister under her arm
and rock and cry. The stories would come out, the horror,” said
Simmons, of Springfield.
Simmons was one of several people who gathered at St. Gregory
Armenian Church in Indian Orchard to remember survivors and those
that perished in what has often been called the first genocide of the
20th century – the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
Yesterday marked the 90th anniversary of the mass killings. It is
estimated that 1.5 million Armenians died at the hands of the Ottoman
Turks during World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. But
Turkey has never acknowledged the events as a genocide, instead
saying the deaths were caused by a civil war.
At St. Gregory, most in attendance could point to ancestors who were
directly affected by the tragedy. Stories of starvation, torture and
killings were commonplace in many family histories.
Two survivors, Mari Holasian, 93 and the Rev. Sahag Vartanessian, 85
were present at the ceremony, with Vartanessian officiating over the
“I feel truly grateful to this country,” said Vartanessian, who fled
to several countries before finally settling in the United States
where he raised a family.