Las Vegas, NV – Well over 175 Armenian-Americans gathered in Las Vegas on April 28, 2002 to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. The program, organized by the Armenian-American Cultural Society of Las Vegas, was held at the city’s main library and included the participation of numerous public officials and their representatives.
The Chairman of the commemoration program, Hriyr Dadaian, began by asking those in attendance to rise for the singing of the American and Armenian national anthems. Dadaian, a longtime resident in the Las Vegas area, has for decades been a champion of the Armenian Cause and efforts to achieve full recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Following the singing of the national anthems, a requiem prayer was offered by Reverand Hrant Yeretsian, who as a pastor for Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Church in Montebello, California. After the requiem prayer, Dadaian presented his opening remarks which detailed why the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is so important.
The keynote speaker for the program was Raffi Hamparian, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region. Hamparian, a former staff member for a Member of Congress in Washington, began by asking those in attendance, “should genocides have consequences.” He urged those in attendance to make sure that Turkey is held accountable for the crime of genocide committed against the Armenian people in 1915.
“Turkey – by funding a campaign of denial here in America – seeks to avoid the consequences of the Armenian Genocide – a crime against humanity which took the lives of 1,500,000 innocent Armenian men, women, and children,” the keynote speaker remarked. “In the interest of securing international justice for the martyrs and survivors of the Armenian Genocide and with the goal of preventing future genocides, we cannot allow Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide to succeed,” Hamparian emphasized.
After Genocide Recognition proclamations issued by Senator John Ensign, Governor Kenny Guinn, and Congresswoman Shelly Berkely were read by Hriyr Dadaian, the program was enriched by a number of songs and recitations delivered by students who attend Las Vegas’s Armenian Saturday School. That school is sponsored by the Armenian Relief Society’s “Shoushi” chapter in Las Vegas.
The guest speaker for the program was Reverend Hrant Yeretsian. In a powerful address, the Reverend evoked the memory of the Armenian Genocide and the fate met by so many faithful Christian Armenians early in the 20th century.
To conclude the program, Genocide survivor Malvine Handjian spoke and urged her fellow Armenians never to forget the events of 1915. In a moving talk, Ms. Handjian spoke of her husband, who because of illness could not be at the ceremony. She recounted the barbarity with which the genocide was conducted and demanded that justice be secured for all those killed during the Armenian Genocide.