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Community gathers for 101st anniversary of Armenian genocide

Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church recognized the 101st anniversary of Armenian genocide during a ceremony on April 24, bringing together members of the Glenview congregation, those of the surrounding communities and a number of legislators.

Hagop Soulakian, chairman of the board of trustees, said it’s astounding the way leaders of the country do not recognize what happened 101 years ago as genocide.

“We’re honoring the 1.5 million saints that received their sainthood last year and that’s there’s still countries around the world, including this country, that does not recognize that that happened, that it’s not called genocide,” he said.

In 1915, members of the Ottoman Empire rounded up and assassinated large groups of people. Among those affected were millions of Armenians.

Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church held its 100th anniversary service last year joining between 700 and 800 people.

In response to the significance of recognizing the 101st anniversary, Soulakian said it’s “revitalizing, reinforcing and reenergizing everyone” and it helps to “keep that energy going.”

According to Soulakian, Armenian Americans continue to face some of the same concerns even today.

“It’s like a never ending cycle and unfortunately, the world turns a blind eye to this,” he said. “The old saying is history repeats itself and it is and yet no one is doing anything.”

According to Soulakian, Armenian Americans still face challenges in getting their voices heard in today’s world. He hoped the event provided a source of relief.

“It’s very reflective when we have these kinds of events,” he said. “When you listen to the service and the hymns, you know it really makes you reflect on what’s happened over the last 101 years.”

Mary Keutelian, of Bartlett, was one of many members of the community taking part in the ceremony that day. She said she attended the 100th anniversary service last year, so she was pleased to see how everyone came out again this year.

“It’s actually pretty great because the choir we had a lot of younger members of the choir who I think they were under 10 or at least 10,” she said. “It was great seeing them involved and having them see us as adults involved as well, it kind of gives them that stepping stone, that guidance to continue.”

Nora Dulukadir, of Lincolnshire, was also in attendance for the ceremony. She said it very moving, seeing the kids performing in the choir and listening to the service.

“Attending the service was very inspiring because I love seeing the community and all the churches get together and form that unity we try to preserve,” she said.

Dulukadir added being part of the experience gave her goosebumps.

Dulukadir said she was appreciative seeing the support shown by legislators who spoke during the ceremony.

“It’s nice to have support whether they’re Armenian or not Armenian,” she said. “It’s nice that we’re known. It’s nice that people care. You don’t have to be Armenian to be a human rights activist. They care, just the simplicity of that.”

Congressman Bob Dold was one of many legislators appearing for the remembrance ceremony. As co-chairman for the Armenian caucus in U.S. congress, he’s put out resolutions to legislators and the president asking that they recognize the genocide for what it is.

Dold said it makes sense to work to promote progress and move forward from what happened in the past.

“We are in congress doing the emphases of trying to push this forward from the legislative perspective, which I think is very, very important,” he said.

Raffi Killian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Illinois, was also there for the remembrance ceremony. He said he was impressed by the show of support they community had shown.

“I think it shows the continued momentum from the 100th [anniversary], so I’m honored and happy that, as an Armenian American, I can say that my community came out and showed the support that they did,” he said.

According to Killian, getting others to see the events as a genocide is a daunting task.

“I’m ecstatic that our elected officials [attended the event],” he said. “Representative Dold had the acronym ABC—Armenians By Choice. This is not just political pandering, these officials understand this issue is a very black and white issue and there’s only one side of the truth you can be on and they choose to come and support us.”

Soulakian said it brings great meaning to have those of Glenview and surrounding communities come together as one body for the 101st anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

“We do this because it’s important,” he said. “You got to keep spirit alive, keep their spirit alive, and let them know that they did not die in vain, that their cause is being carried on by you know by third generations and hopefully fourth, fifth and sixth.”

Soulakian said he believes the next generation of Armenians in the Glenview area will carry on their efforts and maybe take it to the next level.

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