From The Record (Bergen County–NJ)
Soil from the grave of Henry Morgenthau Sr.–an American diplomat who first revealed Turkish atrocities against the country’s Armenian minority 84 years ago–was lifted from his Westchester County grave on Thursday for ceremonial reinterment in Armenia.
Archbishop Khajak Barsamian–head of the Armenian Church’s Eastern Diocese–and Rabbi Ronald Sobol of New York’s Temple Emmanuel synagogue–officiated at the ceremony in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Members of the Morgenthau family and Movses Abelian–Armenia’s ambassador to the United Nations–also attended.
"I can think of no greater honor with which to perpetuate the memory of a great American–a great humanitarian–and a sterling diplomat… His name will be remembered at one of the holiest sites in Armenia," said Pietro Kuciukian–an official of the Union of the Armenia’s of Italy–which helped organize the event.
The soil will be flown to Yerevan–capital of Armenia–to be placed in April in a wall dedicated to the memory of those who perished in the purges of 1915.
Armenia’s claim some 1.5 million were killed or uprooted from their homes by the Turkish government between 1915 and 1923–in what they call the 20th century’s first genocide.
Turkey–which fought alongside Germany against the Allies in World War I–has historically disputed the allegations of massive deaths and deportations of Armenia’s.
As US ambassador in Turkey’s then-capital of Constantinople in 1913-17–Morgenthau protested the bloodletting and is viewed as a hero among Armenia’s as the first foreign official to describe to the world what he called a "campaign of race extermination."
His accounts led to widespread condemnation of Turkish actions and helped to build support for relief programs for Armenian victims and refugees.
A second ceremony will take place next April when the earth will be interred in the Armenian Genocide Memorial’s honorary wall in Yerevan.
Marked by a memorial plaque–it will be placed alongside similar acknowledgmen’s of other prominent humanitarians who assisted Armenia’s during the 1915 deportations and massacres. The ceremony will be hosted by the Government of Armenia–in conjunction with the Armenian National Institute and the Union of the Armenia’s in Italy.
They include Armin Wegner–the German Red Cross worker whose photographs of the atrocities shocked the world. Copies are currently housed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington; Dr. Johannes Lepsius–a German missionary who vigorously protested his government’s failure to take preventative actions during the Genocide. He later published a collection of German documen’s testifying to the atrocities; Lord James Bryce–the British jurist who submitted the first official report documenting the Genocide to the British parliament; and Franz Werfel–author of "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh"–based on the siege of Armenia’s by Turkish troops on the mountain known as Musa Dagh.