President Biden’s clear statement follows in the steps of the United States House of Representatives Vote on H. RES. 296 (Affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide) and the United States Senate Vote on S. RES. 150 (A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that it is the policy of the United States to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance). This act is important not only for Armenians and Americans, but for every nation of the world committed to preventing similar tragedies.
More than 100 years ago, the lives of 1,500,000 innocent Armenians were taken by the Ottoman Turkish Empire. The heroes who saved the lives of Armenians and helped them survive a century ago compel us to work against those who perpetrate such evil acts today. By doing this, we say: “Never again.” The memory and example of the heroes and heroines who braved danger to save others during the Genocide inspire us in our work today.
Back in 2015, at the occasion of the centennial of the Genocide, many Armenians sought to find motivation in their collective tragic experience, resulting in the launch of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. It was named after a famous survivor of the Armenian Genocide, Aurora Mardiganian, who had fled to the United States and dedicated her life to raising awareness of this tragedy. Her efforts and the legacy of the American Committee for Near East Relief are a vivid example of an international humanitarian intervention on behalf of Genocide survivors.
President Biden’s statement marks a bittersweet moment for us, as it came just a week after the passing of our dear friend Vartan Gregorian, Aurora Co-Founder and member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee. Committed to the eradication of crimes against humanity, discrimination and persecution, he would have been so delighted with the news. It was his lifelong quest to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide and to achieve its global recognition.
Armenians have managed to overcome the despair of a century ago, with many benefitting from the generosity and acceptance of our new adoptive countries, including the United States. Today, millions of refugees around the world are making the same journey, as unfortunately, the atrocities that drive people to seek safety have not abated. The world needs to step up and step in, and Aurora’s global movement has become one of the leading voices for the most vulnerable. Of course, actions speak louder than words, and the Initiative has already helped more than 1,000,000 people globally, recognizing modern-day heroes who risk their own lives, health or freedom to help others.
Aurora’s main goal is to find a way to not only remember the survivors of the Armenian Genocide but also to show gratitude to their saviors. The universal concept of Gratitude in Action that underlies Aurora’s activity means that countless people around the world who have received aid in time of crisis can best express their gratitude by offering similar assistance to someone else.
By involving Aurora supporters around the world, this has become a global endeavor that continues to expand the circle of saviors and – most importantly – the number of those saved. This impact is rooted in the tragic events of Armenian history used as inspiration for lending a helping hand to those in need. As more and more people and leaders recognize the Armenian Genocide, we urge everyone to join our growing humanitarian movement and to give a second chance to those persecuted today.