Wednesday, May 13, 2015

29 Heroes Recognized for Contributions to Armenian Community at Centennial Banquet in DC

29 Heroes Recognized for Contributions to Armenian Community at Centennial Banquet in DC

Presidents Wilson and Reagan, the American Red Cross, the New York Times, and Numerous Foreign Governments among Recipients

WASHINGTON—Twenty-nine individuals and organizations were given Hero Awards on May 9 in a show of gratitude from the Armenian community to those who helped save hundreds of thousands of lives during the Armenian Genocide from 1915-23, and have worked for its recognition thereafter.
(L-R) Ruben Vardanyan, Paul Ignatius, Noubar Afeyan, and David Ignatius
At a banquet sponsored by the U.S. National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial (NCAGC), descendants of genocide survivors and many others gathered to honor the nearly 1.5 million lives lost during the genocide and to thank those whose selfless and heroic actions enabled the Armenian community to survive and thrive.
The evening first welcomed guests at a reception featuring exhibitions on the history of the genocide, musicians playing Armenian music, and displays of Armenian artwork. Guests gathered in the banquet hall for the formal dinner, which included remarks by former Secretary of the Navy Paul Ignatius, former U.S. Ambassador Edward Djeredjian, and journalist Lara Setrakian.
“If not for the actions of these men, women, groups, and governments, the Armenian community as it is today would not exist,” said Noubar Afeyan, NCAGC chair, who is himself the descendant of a genocide survivor.
 Prof. Taner Akcam
“While this Centennial is a solemn commemoration of the tragic events 100 years ago, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to those saviors whose brave actions helped us survive,” he continued. “We must now unite and work together to forge a more peaceful future free of genocides.”
At the ceremony, a diverse group of awardees—including representatives of the United States Congress, former U.S. presidents, and numerous foreign governments and institutions—were honored for their contributions to the survival and rebuilding of Armenian life over the past 100 years. John Heubusch, the executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, accepted the award on behalf of the late 40th U.S. president and the last commander in chief to have recognized the genocide formally while in office.
Adam Strom of Facing History and Ourselves
“On behalf of our foundation, I am truly honored to accept this award for President Reagan,” said Heubusch. “The president cared deeply about these issues and was proud to lend his voice to the Armenian community. He was proud to have acknowledged what occurred 100 years ago was, in fact, a genocide.”
Saturday’s banquet concluded a three-day weekend of commemorative events marking the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide in Washington. With a focus on promoting awareness, gratitude, and unity among participants, the NCAGC led a series of events that included an Ecumenical Service at the National Cathedral, led by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Church; performances by renowned Armenian musicians at the Strathmore; a Divine Liturgy at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; and various other cultural exhibitions.
Fethiye Cetin, author of ‘My Grandmother’
“Tonight, we gather for this final event in Washington to commemorate the tragedy that occurred 100 years ago and to honor the heroes who emerged,” said Afeyan. “But tomorrow we look forward to the next 100 years,” he said. “It is not enough for Armenians to survive. We must dare to be alive, dare to thrive, and come together to commit to a future free of genocide.”
List of the 29 individuals and organizations given Hero Awards
President Woodrow Wilson’s great granddaughter Jessie Sayre
Zulal trio performing

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