Congress Remembers Genocide Survivor

Askouhy Jallyan-Vassilian at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs markup on October 10, 2007.-Photo Credit Nuyiri Kasabian

WASHINGTON–Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) Monday paid tribute on the House floor in memory of Armenian Genocide survivor Askouhy Jallyan-Vassilian who passed away on February 27th, 2008, shortly after celebrating her 94th birthday.
Vassilian, who was present during the House Foreign Affairs Committee markup of H.Res.106, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, on October 10, 2007, lived in Cong. Pallone’s district, and was one of the remaining survivors of the genocide.
Following Rep. Pallone’s remarks, her son, Dr. Asbed Vassilian, a professor of chemistry and director of the Armenian Studies Program at Rutgers University in New Jersey, reflected on Cong. Pallone’s statement with the following:
Congressman Frank Pallone’s remarks are really touching, and I am personally grateful that his office, upon your request, made those remarks. Regarding my mother, she just wanted justice to prevail and that all those who perished in 1915 and who did not have any descendents as she did as a survivor, should be recognized and their memories eternally kept alive. Across from her bed, she had the picture of her father, Nazaret, who she lost when she was ten months old. She never knew him. My grandmother had the picture above her bed all the time she was alive, and my mother kept it after my grandmother died and put it across her bed so that every night she would look at it before going to bed.
Having seen and experienced the good, the bad and the ugly, my mother had a calming effect on the new generation whenever they came and complained about the problems they were having in their lives. She would tell them to be happy with what they have, and not sad or angry with what they lack; mainly, count your blessings and thank God. She would tell them to look at the problems with the microscope inverted: rather than seeing small things big, try to see the big things small. She was a happy, energetic, sharp minded, and most importantly, content, reconciled with her life, with its ups and downs. She was thankful to the St. Stepanos Church community for giving her the spiritual nourishment and to her new host country, the United States, for taking care of her over so many years. I will always miss her.

The following is the text of the remarks offered by Cong. Pallone”

IN HONOR OF ASKOUHY JALLYAN-VASSILIAN–Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor Askouhy Jallyan-Vassilian and her dedication to her community and the Armenian people. Mrs. Jallyan-Vassilian was a survivor of the genocide inflicted upon the Armenian people. She was the embodiment of the enduring human’spirit.
Mrs. Jallyan-Vassilian was born Askouhy Jallyan on February 12, 1914, in Orfa, Turkey. Her mother, Khanem, had married in 1913 and was 18 years old when she gave birth to her only daughter. Khanem was widowed in 1915 when her husband, Nazaret, was murdered. Mrs. Jallyan-Vassilian was able to flee the horrors of genocide when she escaped with her mother to neighboring Syria.
Later, Mrs. Jallyan-Vassilian married her husband Missak Vassilian at the age of 19. Together they raised three sons and a daughter. She was also the proud grandmother of 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Her son, Asbed Vassilian, is currently a professor of chemistry at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, and is the head of that school’s Armenian studies program.
On October 10, 2007, Mrs. Jallyan-Vassilian attended a markup session of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs as it worked on a resolution recognizing the deplorable deprivation of human rights that occurred during the Armenian genocide. She had waited 92 years for the United States Congress to recognize the genocide and suffering that her people had endured at the hands of hate and intolerance.
Mrs. Jallyan-Vassilian passed away on February 27, 2008. She will be remembered for her devotion to her Armenian heritage and her commitment to the cause of those Armenia’s who suffered wanton violence and cruelty.
Madam Speaker, I sincerely hope that my colleagues will join me in celebrating the life of Askouhy Jallyan-Vassilian. Her legacy will continue to serve as a reminder of the audacity of human resilience.

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