Thursday, April 24, 2014

99 Years: My Body of Work on the Holocaust of My Ancestors

99 years ago on this day, Armenian leaders and intellectuals in the Ottoman capital of Istanbul were suddenly--and without provocation--rounded up by the Ottoman Empire.  It was--and is--considered the first overt act in what became the Armenian Holocaust, the first genocide of the 20th century.  When all was said and done, this genocide would claim the lives of roughly 1.5 million men, women, and children.  Today, April 24 is commemorated as Genocide Remembrance Day throughout the Armenian diaspora.

I am an American citizen expressly because of this genocide.  My family were among the lucky ones to flee.  And over the past several years, I have used the freedom of speech afforded to me by right of living here in the United States to speak on the necessity of the federal governments of both the United States and Turkey to formally recognize the Armenian Holocaust as a genocide--something that neither government has done as of this writing.

Next year will mark a full century's worth of denial.  It needs to stop.  It needed to stop decades ago.  It may not stop, but I'll still be here, on my own little corner of the internet blogosphere, trying to make it stop.  I owe at least that much to the bravery of my great-grandparents who escaped, and to the memory of countless others who could not.

Below are links to several blog posts I have written over the years about the genocide and/or about being someone whose identity has been forever shaped by it:

"Ring Out the Bells," April 24, 2009

"God of All," a sermon on Mark 7:24-30, April 24, 2010 (these first two posts are from my previous blog that I kept during seminary and my last year of undergrad)

"Armenia Remembered," April 24, 2012

"Being Ethnic," April 25, 2013

"A Voice Was Heard in Ramah," February 5, 2014

The Armenian diaspora continues to be affected by violence around the world...especially in Syria, where tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians have come to live.  Whilst once benefiting from some degree of protection from otherwise despicable leaders like Bashar al-Assad and Ayatollah Khamenei, this is a diaspora that has yet to fully experience peace.

Which is, in the end, what I think we seek.  It is, I believe, in some way what we all seek.  And that which sadly nowhere near enough of us ever truly find.

In memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Holocaust, and in memory of the victims of genocide across the globe, from Nazi Germany to Rwanda.  Lord, forgive us.

Yours in Christ,

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