From the Desk of Amanda Maile, Digital Editor

Casey Chun/ The Fordham Ram

Casey Chun/ The Fordham Ram

By Amanda Maile

Although my last name and bright red hair do not show it, I am Armenian. My father was adopted by Italian Americans living in Philadelphia, but his biological father, Arthur Sacharian, came from Armenia.

Growing up, I never knew much about Armenia, its culture, or the people who live there. In fact, the only knowledge I had about this part of my heritage came from the elderly Armenian couple who has lived next door to me all my life. Every Christmas, they make different Armenian desserts and share them with us. However, as I have grown older, I have hungered for more than these sweet treats and wanted to know more about where my family comes from.

This knowledge came flooding in recently, with the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. In 1915, the Turkish government began to expel and massacre Armenians living within the Ottoman Empire. Although the exact number is unknown, it is estimated that nearly one and a half million Armenians died during the genocide.

Reading about this tragic moment in Armenian history felt unsettling. I wondered why I had never learned about it in school, did not know of any monuments commemorating those who lost their lives and were exiled and had never talked about it with my father. From what I gather, this terrible moment in history has gone unacknowledged all over the world. Only 26 countries around the world recognize the events as genocide, and only 43 states of the United States recognize the genocide, excluding Texas, Wyoming, Iowa, Indiana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia.

I do not know my relatives and ancestors who came from Armenia, I do not go to the Armenian church and do not know how to say more than “hello” and “goodbye” in the Armenian language. Despite this, I still feel a strong connection to this country and recognize its importance and value. Furthermore, I cannot wrap my head around the fact that many countries, politicians and people in general do not recognize this tragic event for what it was: genocide.

An article about the genocide from the Daily Beast says, “Genocide is not the murder of people but the murder of a people.” To me, the tragedy that occurred 100 years ago should be understood and recognized, not only to hold those accountable who carried out the crimes, but also to promote healing for the Armenian people and all those affected by the genocide.

Fortunately, the centennial of the Armenian Genocide showed a push for worldwide recognition. Across many major cities in the United States, people took part in rallies commemorating the genocide. French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin gathered at the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex in Yerevan to remember those who lost their lives and were exiled. Even Pope Francis recognized the genocide in early April.

In learning about the history of Armenia, the good and the bad, I feel closer to a part of my heritage that for so long had gone unnoticed. Furthermore, I think that educating others about this beautiful country and its rich history will help the world acknowledge those tragic events of 100 years ago and help the Armenian people continue to heal.

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