STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON ARMENIAN REMEMBRANCE DAY

The White House, DC
April 24 2015

This year we mark the centennial of the Meds Yeghern, the first mass
atrocity of the 20th Century. Beginning in 1915, the Armenian people
of the Ottoman Empire were deported, massacred, and marched to their
deaths. Their culture and heritage in their ancient homeland were
erased. Amid horrific violence that saw suffering on all sides,
one and a half million Armenians perished.

As the horrors of 1915 unfolded, U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr.

sounded the alarm inside the U.S. government and confronted Ottoman
leaders. Because of efforts like his, the truth of the Meds Yeghern
emerged and came to influence the later work of human rights champions
like Raphael Lemkin, who helped bring about the first United Nations
human rights treaty.

Against this backdrop of terrible carnage, the American and Armenian
peoples came together in a bond of common humanity. Ordinary American
citizens raised millions of dollars to support suffering Armenian
children, and the U.S. Congress chartered the Near East Relief
organization, a pioneer in the field of international humanitarian
relief. Thousands of Armenian refugees began new lives in the
United States, where they formed a strong and vibrant community and
became pillars of American society. Rising to great distinction as
businesspeople, doctors, scholars, artists, and athletes, they made
immeasurable contributions to their new home.

This centennial is a solemn moment. It calls on us to reflect on the
importance of historical remembrance, and the difficult but necessary
work of reckoning with the past. I have consistently stated my own
view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed. A full,
frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in all our interests.

Peoples and nations grow stronger, and build a foundation for a
more just and tolerant future, by acknowledging and reckoning with
painful elements of the past. We welcome the expression of views by
Pope Francis, Turkish and Armenian historians, and the many others
who have sought to shed light on this dark chapter of history.

On this solemn centennial, we stand with the Armenian people in
remembering that which was lost. We pledge that those who suffered
will not be forgotten. And we commit ourselves to learn from this
painful legacy, so that future generations may not repeat it.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/23/statement-president-armenian-remembrance-day