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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Armenian on the House Floor

"As it is essential to liberty that the government in general should have a common interest with the people," wrote Madison in Federalist 52, " so it is particularly essential that the branch of it under consideration should have an immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people"   Any House member representing Glendale, California, needs to have an intimate sympathy with its large Armenian community.

Yesterday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) commemorated the Armenian Genocide by speaking Armenian on the House floor:

In English:
“My Armenian friends, here and around the world, today on the 98th anniversary of the [genocide day], I speak to you from the floor of the House of Representatives in the language of your grandparents and your great grandparents – the language they used to speak of their hopes, their dreams, their lives and their loves in the years before 1915.
“Throughout the Ottoman Empire, tens of thousands were to be killed outright.

“I speak to you in the language of the sons who watched their fathers' murdered.
“Women were raped by the thousands.
“I speak to you in the language of the girls begging the gendarmes for mercy.
“Families were force marched through desert heat as the Ottoman government sought to destroy a people.

“I speak you in the language of the children begging for a drop of water.
“By the time it was over in 1923, more than 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children were dead. It was the first genocide of the 20th Century.
“I speak to you in the language of the mothers who died with their babies in their arms.
“A nation was scattered around the world... To the Middle East, to Europe and to America.
“I speak to you in the language of the survivors who came to America for freedom and made a new life.
“For almost a century, Turkey has denied the genocide. In the face of overwhelming evidence – much of it from American diplomats and journalists – Ankara has denied that the genocide ever happened. They want the world to forget.
“I speak to you in the language of those who were lost. Their voices drift across the decades – begging us to remember.
“I am not a descendant of the fallen, but I speak to you in their beautiful language because on this day, we are all Armenian. And not just on this day. Whenever we speak out against mass murder, whenever we refuse to be cowed into silence, we are all Armenian.
“For many years I have sat with you and listened – to the stories of those who were lost in the genocide and those who survived.
“I speak to you in their language to thank you for sharing your history with me. And I speak to you from this place, this House, because Americans have always shown the courage to look horror in the eye and speak its name, and I look forward to the day when its leaders will do the same.
“And because I know that day will come. May it come soon, so the last of the survivors may hear its awesome sound.

“May God hear our voices.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back.”