From San Diego to Sacramento: One Man’s Genocide Commemoration

BY HARRY BOGHOSSIAN


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Harry Boghossian with Senator Wyland

April 24, of this year marked the 94th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. As a member of San Diego’s Armenian community, I decided to acknowledge this important date by attending the Armenian Genocide commemoration and candlelight vigil held at UCSD.

At the commemoration, one of the speakers was an associate of Senator Wyland (38th district Carlsbad). She stated that one of his sponsored bills, the Genocide Awareness Act SB 234, was soon to be debated by the Senate Education Committee in the State Capitol of California. This bill, beginning with the 2010-11 school year, would require that a student be exposed to an oral history component related to genocides.

On the spur-of-the-moment, I decided to drive up to the state capitol to testify in front of the committee in favor of this bill.

On April 29, 2009 I met with Senator Wyland and his staff. They directed me to the committee room to testify in front of the chair members. My testimony was as follows: “One of the greatest atrocities during the First World War was the Armenian Genocide. The1.5 million Armenians that vanished from this planet that were annihilated by the genocide deserve to be recognized throughout history along with all Genocides.

My father was an eyewitness to the massacre. He was exposed to a terrible tragedy. It changed his entire life. He saw bodies buried below the ground except their head exposed to the sun. He saw men, women, and children lying on the ground dead. Our former U.S. Ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, documented the Armenian Genocide. He put into print the experience he witnessed of the Turkish government’s immoral tactics to wipe out the Armenian people and rob the people of their land and dignity. Mr. Ambassador had the willingness to record the atrocities as a credible, U.S. government document, readily available in the U.S. archives. This document serves as a legitimate itemization of the Genocide. In so doing, he kept the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide alive in the face of today’s Turkish government plot to cover up the truth and deny that the Genocide ever existed. We must never live in the denial of the truth. I urge the Senate Education Committee to support and vote for the Genocide Awareness Act SB 234 so the genocide is never repeated”.

After completing my testimony, nearly 15 other testimonies were heard against the Bill 234. No other testimony was heard in support of the bill beside mine. After completion of all testimonies, the Senate Education Committee approved Senator Wyland’s Genocide Awareness Act Bill 234.

The Governor of the State of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, proclaims April 24th as a “Day of Remembrance of The Armenian Genocide.”
The “Aloha state” proclamation makes Hawaii the 42nd state to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Countries around the world such as Switzerland, France, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and Russia have passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Finally, before leaving the capitol I was introduced to the Communications Director, who showed me around the capitol building. The view of the dome from the rotunda was delightful. I enjoyed very much the experience of testifying in front of the committee and I thank members of the committee for passing the bill.

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