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April 24: Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

Each year on April 24, VA joins thousands of Armenian Americans and Armenians throughout the world in remembering those who perished during the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey. April 24 is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

This was the first genocide of the 20th century, perpetrated by the Ottoman Government against members of their own nation. The genocide erased approximately 75% of the world’s Armenian population—approximately 1.5 million people.

Armenians have been in the Americas since the 1600s, but the largest immigration to the United States was during a period of Armenian massacres in the late 1890s that led to the genocide in 1915. Since then, thousands of Armenian Americans have served faithfully in the Armed Forces of the United States. Some of those include:

  • Anna Der-Vertanian was the first woman promoted to Master Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy
  • Ernest Dervishian was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II
  • Khachadour Garabedian was a U.S. naval officer during the Civil War
  • Paul Ignatius is the former Secretary of the Navy and Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • George Juskalian was a U.S. Army colonel who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam
  • Harry Kizirian served in the Marine Corps during World War II
  • John Kizirian is one of the most decorated American soldiers; he served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam
  • Victor Maghakian served in the Marine Corps during World War II.

Hundreds of Armenian Americans have served in the medical professions, including:

  • Dr. Hampar Kelikian saved Senator Robert Doles’ arm after he was wounded in Italy during World War II
  • Dr. George Aghajanian was a pioneer in the area of neuropharmacology
  • Dr. Raymond Damadian invented the MRI
  • Dr. Albert Kapikian was virologist and pioneer in vaccine development for rotavirus
  • Dr. John Najarian was a transplant pioneer

The governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan, in conjunction with ISIL, have renewed their efforts to decimate the Armenian people. We reflect on the many lives that have been taken without cause, and for those who could have contributed so much to our world. We join the Armenian people in their sorrow, but also in celebrating their continued accomplishments for peace and well being.

Today, we join Armenians worldwide in saying that we care. Genocide is wrong no matter who it happens to.

This post, April 24: Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, was originally published by the Veteran's Administration.

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1 month ago

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