Portantino Delivers Moving Address, Thanks ANCA-WR for Organizing Advocacy Day in Sacramento
SACRAMENTO—Assemblymembers Anthony Protantino and Katcho Achadjian led the annual Armenian Genocide observance in California’s State Capitol Thursday with hundreds of activists from throughout the state and several state legislatures taking part in the event.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino delivered a moving address to his colleagues and those in attendance when he spoke about the Armenian Genocide on the floor of the State Assembly in Sacramento.
He spoke about the importance of the idea of resurrection, as Armenians have built new lives in a new place, in light of April 24 and Easter being on the same day this year.
Portantino also thanked the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region during his address for its role in organizing the day’s events.
Following Portantino, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian spoke emotively about his personal connection to the Genocide, being a descendent of survivors who settled in Lebanon before coming to California to start anew.
Many representatives also offered remarks on the floor, including Assembly Majority Leader Charles Calderon, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma. Assemblyman Mike Gatto was the presiding officer.
On the State Senate side, the Armenian Genocide commemoration was initiated by State Senator Joe Simitian who reminded the chamber of the importance of the day and remembrance. He introduced Ms. Roxanne Makasdjian, Chairwoman of the Genocide Education Project, who spoke on the importance of Genocide education. They were followed by State Senator Mark Wyland who continued on the theme of education and spoke of the importance of oral history in humanizing how genocide is taught.
State Senator Kevin de Leon spoke about the importance of remembrance in the face of the Republic of Turkey’s ongoing campaign of genocide denial. He was followed by Senator Elaine Alquist who spoke about the shared experiences of the Greek, Assyrian, and Armenian people during the Genocide which took place between 1915 and 1923.
The joint resolution, while recognizing the Armenian Genocide, also calls upon the U.S. Congress and the President of the United States to do the same.
In that vein, ANCA-WR Board Chairman, Andrew Kzirian, had this to say, “President Barack Obama will be visiting Los Angeles on April 21. The state legislature’s resolution already calls upon the President to recognize the Armenian Genocide – and this would be a perfect opportunity for him to honor the victims of the Armenian Genocide by visiting the Genocide Martyrs Memorial Monument in Montebello during his visit.”
More than 100 Armenian-American activists from around California joined state legislators during the commemoration and participated in the events planned throughout the day. The activists met with their representatives to talk about issues of importance to the Armenian-American community.
The Near East Foundation Rotunda exhibit and the screening of the film, “The River Ran Red,” attracted crowds visiting the Capitol, in addition to the activists who were in Sacramento for the day’s events.
Haig Mardikian, a Board Member with the NEF offered remarks on the occasion. Haig is the son of George Mardikian, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide who was saved by the efforts of the NEF and whose story was told in the Rotunda exhibit.
In concluding his remarks, Mardikian noted that “[…] we are here today; because, those who perished shall not be forgotten; and, the courage and will to carry on, of those who survived, are a testimony to the inability of evil to triumph over goodness.”
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.