Somber ceremony recalls horrific genocide

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, NY
April 25 2005

Somber ceremony recalls horrific genocide

Enid Arbelo
Staff writer

(April 25, 2005) – With lit candles in hand, about 50 people recited
the Lord’s Prayer in Armenian.

They listened in silence as the names of relatives, friends and loved
ones who died during the Armenian genocide in 1915 were read and
remembered.

Members of the Armenian Church of Rochester hosted a prayer service
and special ceremony Sunday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church to
commemorate the 90th anniversary of the massacre of 1.5 million
Armenians in Turkey.

Although April 1915 was a cruel time for the Armenian people, the
world soon forgot about the first major genocide of the 20th century,
said Max Boudakian, the keynote speaker after the prayer service.

That’s why the group thought it was important to gather and be
assured their voices would be heard.

“The world had turned a deaf ear to the Armenians. That is why the
1915 Armenian genocide is often referred to as ‘The Forgotten
Genocide,'” said Boudakian, of Pittsford.

He also shared stories about a recent trip to the Armenian Genocide
Memorial in Yerevan and his mother Gadarine Boudakian, Rochester’s
last genocide-era survivor. She died in 2000 at the age of 94.

“The genocide curtain of silence is slowly being opened,” he said,
noting that recognition of the tragic events seems hopeful and
attainable. The Turkish government has never officially recognized
the Armenian genocide.

At Sunday’s event, Armenian-born Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
violinist Tigran Vardanyan performed, and others read poetry and sang
songs about loved ones lost to the genocide.

Wearing pins symbolizing the Armenian flag made from orange, blue and
red ribbons, the group sat quietly as a brief program documenting the
genocide was given. The slides depicted a horrific truth for many in
the room.

“All Armenians have been touched,” said Berdjouhi Esmerian,
chairperson of the Armenian Church of Rochester.

The frustration, she said, is that despite the catastrophic history,
Armenians still have not gotten the recognition or compensation they
deserve.

So people, such as Cathy Salibian of Fairport, came to remember the
tragic events, but also look to the future.

“People say, ‘It’s over. Why don’t we just move on?’ It’s not over,
and denial is one way to allow it to happen over and over again,” she
said.

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