RACINE, W.I. — Racine Armenians held a series of events to commemorate the 101st Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Unexpectedly, the first event, an information session, was held on Sun., April 3, following the April 1-2 Azerbaijani offensive into Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic/NKR). Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Racine “Marzbed” gomideh chairperson Zohrab Khaligian informed the local community that this was the largest Azerbaijani offensive since the 1994 ceasefire, stretching from Martakert to Hadrut. Fortunately, although the Azerbaijanis did advance and the Armenian forces suffered casualties, the NKR Defense Army eventually regained the lost territory and inflicted far greater casualties on the Azerbaijani side. Community members were strongly encouraged to go to the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) website and join the #StopAliyev campaign to urge President Barack Obama and Congress to take action to stop Azerbaijan’s attacks. Laptops were made available to members of the community so they may take immediate action.
On Sun., April 10, the ARF “Marzbed” gomideh held its annual basturma and eggs brunch, during which ANC of Wisconsin chairperson Ani Saryan presented an additional update on the Artsakh situation. Although the initial fighting had stopped, Azerbaijani forces were continuing to fire sporadically at Armenian targets. Saryan once again encouraged community members to visit the ANCA website to take action immediately. “By not doing so, we as Armenians are only encouraging our U.S. government to continue to side with Azerbaijan,” said Saryan.
On Sat., April 16, the Joint Committee of Armenian Churches of Greater Chicago and Wisconsin held an Ecumenical Prayer Service with the theme, “Martyrs for Christ: Yesterday and Today,” with special attention to the Armenian Genocide. The event was hosted by Assumption Greek Orthodox Church. More than 225 people attended, with featured remarks by Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese, with a homily by Greek Orthodox Bishop Demetrios, and an additional message from Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy.
On Tues., April 19, the ANC of Wisconsin hosted its annual reception and program commemorating the Armenian Genocide at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison. The purpose of the event is to thank the Wisconsin State Assembly and State Senate for adopting Armenian Genocide Resolutions, in 2000 and 2002, respectively, which designate April 24 of each year as “Wisconsin Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1923,” and to continue to educate and promote awareness of Armenia and Armenian issues, particularly the Armenian Genocide.
The event was hosted by ANC of Wisconsin and Representatives Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau), Samantha Kerkman (R-Powers Lake), Cory Mason (D-Racine), Tod Ohnstad (D-Kenosha), Daniel Reimer (D-Milwaukee), Jessie Rodriguez (R-Franklin), Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Robin Vos (R-Burlington), Thomas Weatherston (R-Racine) and Josh Zepnick (D-Milwaukee); and Senators Nikiya Harris-Dodd (D-Milwaukee), Chris Larson (D-South Milwaukee), Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), and Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha). Additional state legislators and staff attended, including Debra Kolste (D-Janesville), Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), and Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee).
In her remarks, Saryan informed the audience that the Pan-Turkic policy to eliminate all non-Turkic people that resulted in the Armenian Genocide in 1915 was at work again at the beginning of April with Azerbaijan’s invasion of the Armenian-enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. “This is Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s attempt to unite their Turkic populations and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia stand in their way,” she said.
On Sat., April 23, the annual joint memorial service for the Armenian Genocide was held at St. John the Baptist Armenian Church in Greenfield. The memorial service included the participation of all four Armenian churches in Wisconsin—St. Hagop and St. Mesrob in Racine, Holy Resurrection in South Milwaukee, and St. John in Greenfield—as well as both Armenian churches in Waukegan, Illinois—St. George and St. Paul. The service was followed by a fellowship in the church hall.
The events came to a close on Sun., April 24 with the Divine Liturgy officiated by Reverend Father Daron Stapanian at St. Hagop Armenian Church in Racine. The Liturgy included a dedicated service of the Holy Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide icon that was a gift by the Samuelian Family in loving memory of Anne Samuelian.