SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (SF Gate)—Drivers headed into the San Francisco over the Bay Bridge got a world history lesson without even asking Monday when a huge banner was displayed above the mouth of the Treasure Island Tunnel commemorating the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
For the third consecutive year, the banner, measuring 70 feet long and ten-feet tall, was unfurled on the span about 9 a.m. to mark the 102nd anniversary of the genocide — a historical event that has yet to be recognized by many world leaders.
The “genocide is very personal to us. We are grandchildren and great-grandchildren of genocide survivors,” said Alex Bastian, a member of the Bay Area Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee. “It is something that has really wounded our soul, wounded our community, wounded our people.”
Nearly 30,000 Armenians in the Bay Area contributed money for the hanging of the sign that read, “Armenian Genocide 1915” and “genocideeducation.org.”
“We want to have recognition for everyone coming across the bridge to understand our story,” said Kim Bardakian, also a member of the Bay Area Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee.
The banner will be in sight for westbound commuters on the bridge for the month of April.
For both Bardakian and Bastian the banner is significant in holding world leaders accountable in recognizing the genocide.
An estimated 1.5 million people, nearly half the population of Armenia, were killed by the Ottoman Empire.
“The United States has, unfortunately, not acknowledged (the genocide) and that is why the recognition is something so near and dear to us,” said Bastian, who is also deputy chief of staff for the San Francisco district attorney’s office.
“We really feel very strongly that the recognition of the Armenian genocide is not something just for us, but something for all of humanity,” he added.