A March to Remember

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The forecast was rain. But we marched anyway. To commemorate the coming 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, my husband, two daughters and I marched across the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday.

I first thought: maybe we’ll catch a cold, one of my family’s biggest avoidances. Maybe we’ll be utterly exhausted, with the rest of our busy schedule that we crammed this into, flying in from San Diego and back in one day. Maybe — this wasn’t such a good idea.

But it turned out to be sunny — no wind, no rain, no counter protests. We marched free and clear, and we will never, ever forget yesterday’s Armenian Genocide Commemoration March across the Golden Gate Bridge to remember our 1.5 million martyred ancestors, killed by Ottoman Turkey because they would not become Muslim and give up their Christian faith and their Armenian heritage. (See http://www.armenian-genocide.org/index.htm for more information).

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(My Family)

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The crime, documented in photos, first-hand European accounts and even Ottoman military directives, is still denied today by Turkey. Yet it is finally being realized and recognized by more and more countries. Though 43 of our 50 states have recognized it, the United States has yet to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide in legislation, because of the pressure it receives from Turkey, its ally.

In fact, when Armenians, along with their Catholicos (Pope) of the Armenian Apostolic Church and international leaders, gather in Washington this May to commemorate the Armenian Genocide with the President of Armenia for an ecumenical service at the National Cathedral, President Obama is apparently not even going to receive them for a visit during their DC trip — also because of pressure from Turkey. The lie continues.

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So here we were, in the area where I went to college, marching with approximately 1,000 other Armenians of all ages wearing purple shirts, for nearly an hour across two miles, cars whizzing by, a few of them beeping in solidarity. Some joggers asked what we were doing. Some of the marchers held signs; others held pictures of their martyred ancestors; many held flags and mementos because they still feel their great grandparents’ unhealed wounds.

Who knew that 25 years after my college days, I’d be walking with my children and husband across this bridge – the same bridge I had crossed so many times, the one that rocked in 1989.

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(Our Daughters)

And as we started to get tired, as I saw my little daughter eventually trail behind my older one and wondered if we’d have to carry her the rest of the way, I thought mostly of one thing:

If our ancestors could march across the Der Zor desert for as many weeks as they did, driven from their homes with their children and remaining possessions on their backs, prodded by Turkish gendarmes into torture, rape, murder, or at best a scorching, starving death, I can last two miles and forty minutes across the Golden Gate Bridge.

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And we made it. The uncharacteristically warm sun and windless day made us wonder if our ancestors put in a good word for us with God himself, allowing us to have the type of day of warmth, of freedom, of recognition, that they could only dream of.

Onward.

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For a slideshow of the march, see: http://m.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/armenian-genocide-commemoration-march/Slideshow?oid=2921932

The Armenian Genocide March across the Golden Gate Bridge was sponsored by the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, San Francisco chapters. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/TheKnightsAndDaughtersOfVartan?ref=br_tf or www.kofv.org.

(Photos by Mike Koozmin, except “My Family” by Sarkis Soghomonian and “Our Daughters” by Lisa Kirazian.)

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