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Armenian Americans Worked for This for Decades

The genocide 'is my family's story,' one woman says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2021 4:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day was different this year, after President Biden recognized the killings carried out by Ottoman Empire forces in the early 20th century constituted genocide—ending decades of disappointment and broken promises for Armenian Americans. Hundreds of people dressed in black visited a hilltop monument in Montebello, east of Los Angeles, to lay flowers and say prayers, as they do every April 24. Armenian Americans praised Biden's announcement—"He's the first American president to have the guts to talk about it," one man said—while saying that the struggle isn't over and that they're not necessarily sure what's next. "My whole life has really been defined by this event in 1915," said Lori Mesrobian of Los Angeles, the Times reports, "because it's really my family's story."

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Varoujan Kioudjian, 74, who went to Montebello on Saturday, grew up going to demonstrations and memorials every Remembrance Day. His father would tell him about the genocide, per AP. "The day April 24 comes around, tears flowed from his eyes, from his heart," Kioudjian said. "It was that sad." Younger generations feel the same connection. "Every action, of every day of my life, I want to find ways to help our community," said Tadde Matossian, 22, of Burbank. Hasmik Burushyan, an Armenian youth leader in California, said Biden's decision was important in "breaking the cycle of being complicit" in Turkey's denials that it committed genocide, per the Times. Salpi Ghazarian, who said she's been working to "prove that my grandmother's story is not a lie," said one more step needs to be taken. "At the end of the day," she said, "the important recognition is that by Turkey." (Read more Armenian genocide stories.)

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