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Vermont legislature unanimously adopts Armenian Genocide Centennial Resolution

April 9, 2015

The Vermont legislature strengthened the standing of the Green Mountain State as a leader in the genocide prevention movement by unanimously adopting a concurrent resolution (H.C.R. 86) commemorating the Armenian Genocide Centennial on March 31 and hosting a day-long series of events honoring the victims of this crime against humanity, reported the Armenian National Committee of America-Eastern Region (ANCA-ER).

The legislation was spearheaded on the House side by Representative Joan G. Lenes, who is a descendant of an Assyrian Genocide survivor, and Representative Adam Greshin. Lead Senate supporters of the resolution included Senators Dick Sears, Philip Baruth, and Diane Snelling with 14 of 30 Senators cosponsoring the measure.

“It was a wonderful day of people sharing a common past-not forgetting that, yet still learning and looking forward so that we are a better people,” noted Rep. Lenes following passage of the resolution.

Prior to its reading in the General Assembly, Vermont’s own Lokum Band – Jeff Davis, Peter Bingham, and Charlie Jones – played several Armenian musical pieces as part of the devotional exercises, garnering a standing ovation from legislators. Later, Rep. Lenes introduced the Armenian community members in attendance and invited one and all to a noon presentation about the Armenian Genocide by authors Chris Bohjalian and Dana Walrath.

“I was so proud to be a Vermonter today—and I was so proud of the Vermont legislature,” said Bohjalian, whose internationally acclaimed novel on the Armenian Genocide, “The Sandcastle Girls,” was a New York Times best seller. “By recognizing the Armenian Genocide, legislators gave voice to those voices that were forever stilled in Der-el-Zor and Ras-el-Ain and the Dudan Crevasse. Today Vermont helped spread the truth of what occurred a century ago on the Anatolian plains and the Syrian desert, and helped quiet the voice of denial.”

“Today Vermont legislators chose social justice over political exigency,” said Walrath, who recently published “Like Water on Stone,” a verse novel about the genocide that is based on her grandmother’s history. “Shame, pride, and oil are not good enough reasons to deny the Armenian genocide. Their detailed resolution honors those who suffered and those who have worked tirelessly to erase genocide from this earth. This resolution can serve as a model for other states. I am proud to be a citizen of Vermont, a small state with a big heart.”

The State of Vermont first recognized the Armenian Genocide when Governor James Douglas proclaimed April 24, 2004, as “Armenian Martyrs Day” in Vermont. Forty-three U.S. states have recognized the Armenian Genocide, with additional states considering legislation in the upcoming months.

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