Earlier today, Armenia remembered the 100th anniversary of the start of the World War 1 era genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey at a somber ceremony attended by leaders from around the world.
With the legacy of the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915 still a source of bitter enmity and political disputes in Asia Minor and beyond, Armenia on Friday recognized the 100th anniversary of what historians and a growing number of world leaders have called the first genocide of the 20th century.
On an ashen gray day in the capital, Yerevan, punctuated by driving rain, Armenian officials and dignitaries gathered at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex — the country’s main monument to the roughly 1.5 million people killed — where they were joined by international delegations that included President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and President François Hollande of France.
Although notably absent at the event was President Obama, who promised while campaigning in 2008 that he would use “genocide” to describe the mass killings but, as of yet, has not made good on his promise:
As a candidate in 2008, Pres Obama said as president he would recognize the Armenian genocide. Today he says "my view has not changed."
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) April 24, 2015
Today's the centennial of the Armenian genocide. Doesn't Obama's fear of using the word genocide, and thus upsetting Turkey, seem pathetic?
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) April 24, 2015
— NewsBusters (@newsbusters) April 24, 2015
For 7th year in a row, Obama breaks promise to acknowledge Armenian genocide http://t.co/gcO0XODzFG
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 24, 2015
The refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide is yet another broken promise by President Obama. http://t.co/Fl1e79balj
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) April 21, 2015
Let’s not forget that there once was a president who wasn’t afraid of calling the genocide what it was — Ronald Reagan:
— Michael Reagan (@ReaganWorld) April 24, 2015
And here is President Reagan’s official proclamation from 1981:
Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust
by the President of the United States of America
The Congress of the United States established the United States Holocaust Memorial Council to create a living memorial to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Its purpose: So mankind will never lose memory of that terrible moment in time when the awful specter of death camps stained the history of our world.
When America and its allies liberated those haunting places of terror and sick destructiveness, the world came to a vivid and tragic understanding of the evil it faced in those years of the Second World War. Each of those names — Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, Treblinka and so many others — became synonymous with horror.
The millions of death, the gas chambers, the inhuman crematoria, and the thousands of people who somehow survived with lifetime scars are all now part of the conscience of history. Forever must we remember just how precious is civilization, how important is liberty, and how heroic is the human spirit.
Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it — and like too many other such persecutions of too many other peoples — the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten.
As part of its mandate, the Holocaust Memorial Council has been directed to designate annual Day of Remembrance as a national, civic commemoration of the Holocaust, and to encourage and sponsor appropriate observances throughout the United States. This year, the national Days of Remembrance will be observed on April 26 through May 3.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby ask the people of the United States to observe this solemn anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps, with appropriate study, prayers and commemoration, as a tribute to the spirit of freedom and justice which Americans fought so hard and well to preserve.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this 22nd day of April, in the year of our Lord Nineteen hundred and eight-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fifth.
President Obama has one year left to make good on his promise — let’s see if he finally comes through.