WASHINGTON—On March 3, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a lead sponsor of the Armenian Genocide Truth and Justice Resolution (H.Res.227), will host a Capitol Hill event honoring America’s relief efforts to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, a campaign that helped launch a century of unparalleled U.S. leadership in meeting humanitarian needs around the world.
This event will serve to educate Capitol Hill lawmakers, staff and the community about America’s efforts to help Armenians after they were targeted for genocide, and the continuing need to provide relief to those suffering around the globe.
The spirit of American care and compassion for the victims of the Armenian Genocide is perhaps best symbolized by the Armenian Orphan Rug, a work of art crafted by young survivors and gifted to the White House by the Near East Relief – a charitable organization inspired by President Wilson and chartered by an Act of Congress. Regrettably, this symbol of American generosity has yet to be released for display by the White House, which caused the cancellation of a planned Smithsonian Institution exhibit of the Rug in December of 2013. It is our hope that the White House will agree to provide the rug for this event, but in the absence of a commitment, the event will go forward nonetheless.
“America’s role in helping Armenian survivors of the first genocide of the 20th Century is a story worth telling and remembering,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “It’s also important to remind policymakers of the significant role the United States played in assisting the victims of the Ottoman Empire during the dark days of World War I. The Armenian Genocide, which occurred almost 100 years ago, was an event of such catastrophic significance that all nations have a duty to educate their citizens on what took place. Events like this – highlighting America’s important humanitarian role – can only help to convince my colleagues of the importance of finally recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
“Efforts to end Turkey’s gag-rule and return the U.S. government to the right side of the American movement for a truthful and just resolution of the Armenian Genocide tend to flourish in the bright light of day, growing stronger in the sunshine that public scrutiny brings,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “It’s for this reason, and many others, that we are so thankful to Congressman Schiff for hosting this Capitol Hill program and for seeking the answers that our Congress and our community deserve about the White House’s decision to keep this unique Genocide-era artwork in the shadows and locked away from public view.”
In a letter to the President last year urging the display of the rug, Schiff and 32 other Members of Congress wrote: “The Armenian Orphan Rug is a piece of American history and it belongs to the American people. For over a decade, Armenian American organizations have sought the public display of the rug and have requested the White House and the State Department grant their request on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, Armenian Americans have yet to have their requests granted. We urge you to release this American treasure for exhibition.”
The Armenian Orphan Rug measures 11′ 7″ x 18′ 5″ and is comprised of 4,404,206 individual knots. It took Armenian girls in the Ghazir Orphanage of Near East Relief 10 months to weave. The rug was delivered to President Coolidge on December 4, 1925, in time for Christmas, with a label on the back of the rug, which reads “In Golden Rule Gratitude To President Coolidge.” According to Missak Kelechian, an expert on this topic, the gift of the Armenian Orphan Rug was widely covered in U.S. media, including in the New York Times in 1925 and the Washington Post in 1926. Additional information about the history of the Armenian Orphan Rug is available in Dr. Hagop Martin Deranian’s book, “President Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug,” published on October 20, 2013, by the Armenian Cultural Foundation.