* Vows to counter Genocide denial at Spirit of Armenia Award Ceremony during Prelacy’s National Representative Assembly in Chicago
CHICAGO–Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Dole pledged yesterday to continue pressing for official US recognition of the Armenian Genocide yesterday at a ceremony honoring her with the Armenian Prelacy’s coveted Spirit of Armenia award.
Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan–Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern United States and Canada–presided over the award ceremony as part of the Prelacy’s annual National Representative Assembly–which is being held this year in Chicago. The formal ceremony was followed by a substantive meeting with church and community leaders on a range of public policy issues of concern to Armenian Americans.
"We are pleased to honor our dear friend Elizabeth Dole with the Spirit of Armenia award," said Archbishop Choloyan after presenting her with the framed citation noting her commitment to the ideals and aspirations of the Armenian nation. "We encourage her to continue her proud tradition of public service and wish her the greatest success."
Joining Archbishop Choloyan at the ceremony and in the meeting with Dole were Bishop Khajak Hagopian–Vice-Vicar of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America; Jack Mardoian–Esq.–Chairman of the Prelacy Executive Council; community leaders John and Maral Vartan of Harrisburg–Pennsylvania–Alice Kelikian–a close family friend of the Dole’s and daughter of the late Dr. Hampar Kelikian–who helped heal the wounds suffered by former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole during the second World War–and; national–regional–and local representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)–including Vasken Aivazian–representing the ANCA – Eastern US–and Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA office in Washington.
Dole–who has established an exploratory committee to look into a bid for the presidency–opened the meeting by recounting her long-standing friendship with the Armenian people–dating back to the strong bond between both herself and husband with the Kelikian family. She then went on to reaffirm her commitment to work toward official US recognition of the Armenian Genocide–stressing her willingness to stand up against those who–against all the evidence–deny this crime against humanity or seek to describe it as anything other than a genocide. In this same spirit–and in the tradition of her husband’s forceful advocacy of Armenian American issues–she outlined her principled stand on a range of concerns raised by the delegation.
Archbishop Choloyan and the others in the delegation expressed the tremendous respect the Armenian American community holds for her record as a public servant–as well as the heartfelt appreciation of all Armenia’s for her tireless efforts on behalf of the Armenian people. Specific mention was made of her trip to Armenia following the devastating 1988 earthquake to provide relief aid and to help coordinate the US assistance program–as well as her remarkable April 24th speech in 1996 before thousands of Armenian Americans gathered at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Montebello–California. The group thanked her–in particular–for her work as President of the American Red Cross which–under her leadership–undertook an unprecedented assistance effort in Armenia and–more recently–in Nagorno Karabakh. Among the projects she launched were those made possible by the Kirk Kerkorian’s Lincy Foundation and through the generosity of the Huntsman family of Utah.