Newly Instated California State Senator Kevin De Leon Leads Effort to Pass Resolution
SACRAMENTO—The California State Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution honoring and commending the extraordinary service of the Near East Relief and the American people who helped save over 132,000 orphans and provided humanitarian aid to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, reported the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR). AJR 41 was led by State Senator Kevin De Leon a day after the Democratic Caucus voted for him to be the next president pro tem of the Senate.
“We congratulate State Senator Kevin De Leon on his new position and sincerely thank him for his leadership in ensuring the prompt consideration and passage of AJR 41,” stated ANCA WR Chair Nora Hovsepian. “On the heels of the State Assembly’s passage of AJR 41, California’s acknowledgement of Near East Relief’s rescue of over one million Armenian orphans and refugees from Genocide as an important part of American history is now complete,” added Hovsepian.
Specifically, the resolution recognizes the Near East Relief organization and the unprecedented response by the United States to the Armenian Genocide of 1915 at the behest of President Woodrow Wilson and the United States State Department by instituting the first congressionally sanctioned American philanthropic effort created exclusively to rescue the Armenian nation and other Christian minorities from annihilation. AJR 41 also calls on the Chief Clerk of the CA Assembly to transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, the Minority Leader of the United States Senate, and to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States.
“The work of the Near East Relief began with U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau and the formation of a committee and the launching of an unprecedented humanitarian effort to prevent the annihilation of the Armenian population in Turkey. Due to the efforts of Americans, including many Californians, thousands of orphans were rescued and cared for. It is an effort that we can all be proud of – a glorious page in our nation’s history and one that we should not forget,” said lead author of AJR 41 Assemblyman Ian Calderon.
Previously on the solemn day of April 24, 2014, 72 CA Assemblymembers joined in as co-authors of the AJR 41 then moved to unanimously pass the resolution. The vote was followed by a floor introduction of ANCA Western Region Executive Director Elen Asatryan, ANCA Western Region’s “America, We Thank You: An Armenian Tribute to Near East Relief” Committee Co-Chair Hermineh Pakhanians and Committee Member Arsho Beylerian for the organization’s efforts in spearheading the campaign.
The ANCA-WR launched the America, We Thank You campaign in March 2014, timed for the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Since then, the project has taken center-stage at two high-profile Genocide commemoration events, the first at the California State Capitol which included an exhibit of posters and memorabilia prepared by the America, We Thank You Campaign at the Capitol Rotunda and the second at Los Angeles City Hall, when on Wednesday, April 23, led by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, the Los Angeles City Council, during its annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, commended the ANCA-WR’s efforts and honored the “America We Thank You” members for their dedication in highlighting this chapter of American history. During the City Hall ceremony, the City Council also presented a proclamation to Keith Coogan, the grandson of actor Jackie Coogan, who was active in Near East Relief efforts and used his celebrity to raise awareness and funds for Armenian Genocide victims.
“America We Thank You: An Armenian Tribute to Near East Relief,” is a movement to recognize the outpouring of generosity by the American people in the immediate aftermath of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1930) and to highlight the efforts of Near East Relief in rescuing and providing assistance to hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who were victims of the Genocide.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.