Commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide at City Hall
Friday evening we went to the Rotunda in Cleveland City Hall for the Commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. It was on this very day, April 24th, in 1915 that the leaders and intellectuals of the Armenian communities in Ottoman Turkey were rounded up and massacred killed which marked the beginning of the Armenian Genocide in which 1,500,000 perished between the years of 1915 to 1923. It is estimated that 2 out of 3 Armenians living in Ottoman Turkey at that time were killed. The emcee for the event was Mr. Russ Arslanian who said that the only reason that one of his family members was spared was because a Turkish general wanted her for his seamstress. In addition to Mr. Arslanian, we introduced ourselves to Mr. Kevan Asadorian, Chairman of the Armenian Genocide Committee of Ohio, who wrote in the program that "the committee is focused on raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide to prevent future genocides worldwide."
Giving the Keynote Speech at this event was Dr. Douglas Kerr who, along with his wife Mary Ann, we know from Cleveland Peace Action. Dr. Kerr's parents both travelled to Turkey to work for Near East Relief after WWI and were witnesses to a lot of the happenings concerning the genocide. His father, Dr. Stanley Kerr, wrote a book about it titled "The Lions of Marash."
The Rotunda was full of people and several dignitaries attended also and/or sent representatives or proclamations. Ohio State Senator Kenny Yuko presented a resolution from the state senate that was also signed by fellow senators Ms. Sandra Williams, Mr. Tom Patton, and Mr. Michael Skindell. One of the saddest things about this tragedy is that until fairly recently not too many people have heard about it but, as Mr. Arslanian said, recent media attention has exceeded their expectations; but this is long overdue. Senator Yuko believes that if such a thing were to happen today it would be universally condemned and hopefully terminated because the media would have been all over it.
Ohio State Rep. Bill Patmon said that the Armenian Genocide was "the worst thing that I have ever heard" due to the high percentage of the Armenian population that was killed. He went to praise the survivors, many of whom immigrated to the United States to start a new life.
Along these lines, Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Slovenia, said that what happened 100 years ago is less strong than the community here on this night and that we will overcome the challenges and the tragedies put before us because we are greater.