For Armenian-Americans of a certain generation, this is the week it finally happened. On Tuesday, October 29, 2019, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. House Resolution 296 passed by an enormous margin: 405 “Yea” votes to 11 “Nays.”
The reaction in the public sphere was impressive. Under a banner photo of the eternal flame at Dzidzernagapert, the New York Times ran a headline: “House Passes Resolution Recognizing Armenian Genocide”—adding: “It is the first time that a chamber of Congress has officially designated the 1915 slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide.” Readers of the Wall Street Journal were likewise greeted with an above-the-fold photo of Armenian refugees from 1915, accompanying the paper’s Page-One story.
To Armenian-Americans who have followed the history of Genocide resolutions over the past 40 years, such results are a measure of vindication for their long patience, conviction, and hope. Standing in the background of Tuesday’s milestone was decades of grassroots effort and political action by Armenian individuals and organizations, which endured years of broken promises and dashed expectations, but marched determinedly onward.
It’s worth noting that several of the Congressional supporters of the resolution (including Frank Pallone and bill co-sponsor Gus Bilirakis in the House, and co-sponsor of the proposed Senate resolution Bob Menendez) have been formally recognized by the Eastern Diocese over the years as “Friends of the Armenians.” These and others deserve a nod of thanks for their continuing friendship.
Perhaps it took a “perfect storm” of domestic and foreign political developments for such a resolution to be passed at this particular time. And of course, the story is hardly over, with a Senate vote still waiting to be scheduled.
But as our Lord once said, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Mt 6:34): Those are concerns for another day. For this week, at least, Armenian-Americans can feel exhilarated and proud over this achievement.
And as Armenian Christians, there are a few other things we can (and ought) to do. We can use this occasion to pray for the peaceful repose of the Genocide victims. We can ask for intercession from the sainted martyrs of 1915. We can honor the heroic, nearly vanished generation of survivors. And we can give thanks to God for sustaining the Armenian people through our days of affliction, and our days of victory.