SACRAMENTO–The Armenian National Committee of America–Western Region (ANCA-WR) reported today that newly elected California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an Executive Proclamation designating Saturday–April 24–as a "Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide." The language of the proclamation addressed the historical facts of the Genocide and commended Armenian Americans for retaining their "?distinct heritage–language–and religion–and bringing rich cultural diversity to the Golden State."
"We are very pleased to have Governor Schwarzenegger proclaim April 24 as a California Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide," commented ANCA-WR Government Relations Director–Armen Carapetian. "Designating April 24th as a special day means a great deal to the children and grandchildren of survivors of the Armenian Genocide and even the survivors who were able to make it to California and called this great state their home."
On Saturday–April 24–California State Senator Charles Poochigian–the legislature’s highest ranking Armenian–will present the proclamation to the ANCA-WR and the Armenian community at a special ceremony to be held at the Armenian Martyrs Monument in Montebello–California. The event will include special messages from Senator John Kerry–Governor Schwarzenegger–in addition to speeches from various other California State and federal public officials.
The complete text of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s statement follows:
On April 24–1915–in Constantinople–the Ottoman Turkish government arrested and murdered several hundred Armenian religious–political–and intellectual leaders–beginning a campaign of terror known as the Armenian Genocide.
From 1915 to 1923–the Ottoman Empire executed a systematic destruction of Armenian culture through the forced exile–imprisonment and annihilation of men–women and children of Armenian descent. More than 1.5 million Armenia’s perished–and 500,000 survivors were forced to leave their ancestral homeland in Turkey. Whole villages were massacred and many people died of exposure and starvation during forced death marches in the desert.
Despite this great tragedy–the Armenian people have persevered and today are striving to build a free and proud nation–based on the principles of democracy and a free-market economy. California is home to 700,000 Armenia’s–the largest Armenian community outside the Republic of Armenia. Throughout the decades–the Armenian-American community has contributed to California’s agriculture–business–education–public service–and the arts. They have retained their distinct heritage–language–and religion–bringing rich cultural diversity to the Golden State.
On this 89th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide–we join with Armenia’s around the world to mourn the loss of so many innocent lives. In remembering this great human tragedy–we rededicate ourselves to combat injustice–and we honor the triumphant spirit of the Armenian people.
NOW–THEREFORE–I–ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER–Governor of the State of California–do hereby proclaim Saturday–April 24–2004–as a "Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide."