House Resolution 106 and the Legacy of the Armenian Genocide

During the last few weeks when the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States House of Representatives considered and approved H.R. 106 and the historical record of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian community experienced emotional hills and valleys as those proceedings were closely followed and examined. It is now clear that, for the time being at least, the resolution has been tabled due to the intense pressure exerted by the Republic of Turkey and its allies in Washington. However, even though articles in these pages and elsewhere provided valuable and thought provoking commentary about the moral obligation of the United States, and others, to recognize the Genocide, I am nevertheless compelled to write about some of the intangible feelings and interactions the community recently experienced. The apparent commonality of experiences discussed below points to the deep trauma suffered generations ago that continue to effect the current generation.
When H.R. 106 cleared the committee, I received numerous e-mails and telephone calls from Armenian friends and family, living in the United States and elsewhere, some of whom I had not heard from in several years. These communications were mostly jubilant with congratulatory notes for the community’s efforts in clearing the path to Genocide recognition in the United States. When I asked around, it became readily clear that many members of our community experienced the same unexpected interactions. Things did not subsequently slow down. Rolling e-mails started up urging people to "vote" in favor of the resolution on various news outlet web-sites. When percentage support for the resolution started to drop on the unscientific web-site polls and go against the resolution, the "get out the vote" campaign intensified and even included directions on how to modify one’s computer to be allowed to "vote" multiple times. What was going on here?
Whether on a subconscious or conscious level, the trauma and loss from the Genocide still reverberates in us individually, and as a community. The community’s psyche which awoke with an uncommon intensity regarding Genocide recognition, has seemingly now subsided with the decision to keep the resolution from the full House. The effect of genocide on later generations not in the actual "zone of danger" has been substantially developed and detailed in many scholarly works and such analysis is beyond the scope of this commentary. However, until the Genocide is recognized and restitution provided by the Republic of Turkey, not just recognition from other countries, neither this nor future generations of Armenia’s will be able to move on and become emancipated from the effect of the Genocide. It is reassuring that the community is tied together over a common set of experiences, unfortunately, the common set of experiences includes the continuing effect of the Armenian Genocide. Let’s redouble our efforts until the Genocide is recognized, and restitution given, by its perpetrators.

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