Genocide Remembrance (April 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Telegram to U.S. Secretary of State Robert Lansing, July 16, 1915

Image in the Public Domain

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Who, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?

–Adolf Hitler

On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Empire commenced the infamous and frequently denied Armenian Genocide, of which too many people are ignorant.  About 1.5 million Armenians died during that genocide, which successive Turkish governments have refused to call a genocide, to their discredit.  Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt called the genocide the greatest crime to World War I, to his credit.  In 1965 Congressman and future President Gerald Ford marked the fiftieth anniversary of the genocide in the U.S. House of Representatives, to his credit. In 1978, to his credit, Jimmy Carter became the first sitting President of the United States to use the word “genocide” to describe that Ottoman policy.  Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush also made strong statements while in office, to their credit.

The Episcopal Church recognizes April 24 as the day for Genocide Remembrance.  The text for this day in A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) begins:

This day is set aside in the calendar of the church to hold in remembrance those who have died and those whose lives have been severely damaged as a result of acts of genocide:  the systematic and international destruction of a people by death, by the imposition of severe mental or physical abuse, by the forced displacement of children, or by other atrocities designed to destroy the lives and human dignity of large groups of people.

When one hears the word “genocide,” one might think first of the Holocaust during World War II or of the events in Rwanda in the 1990s or the humanitarian atrocities in the Balkans in the 1990s or of the inhumanity of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s.  That is a partial list of genocides.  We should not forget the Armenian Genocide and neglect to call it what it was–genocide–either.  Nor should we neglect to recognize other genocides.  Most of all, we should act to make “never again” more than an empty platitude.  Respect for human dignity requires nothing less.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOME DE LAS CASAS, “APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, ANGLICAN DEAN OF WESTMINSTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EDWARD WILLIAM LEINBACH, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FERARD, FIRST DEACONESS IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

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Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock,

your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth:

Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil,

and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were,

not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression,

and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 2:2-5

Psalm 70

Revelation 7:13-17

Matthew 2:13-18

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 343

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