As early as 1969, when President Reagan was Governor of California, he attended commemorations at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Montebello, California. Then Governor Reagan joined His Holiness Khoren I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, a host of state and local dignitaries and over 10,000 Armenian Americans and made strong statements in support of the Armenians' plight for justice, Today, I humbly bow in memory of the Armenian martyrs, who died in the name of freedom at the hands of Turkish perpetrators of Genocide.
In Proclamation 4838, issued on April 22, 1981 to proclaim April 26-May 3 as “Days of Remembrance of Victims of Holocaust,” Reagan stated, 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. Later in his first term, the Reagan Administration, at the urging of Secretary of State George Schultz and Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, retreated from this stand and opposed successive Armenian Genocide Resolutions in 1985 and 1987.
Towards the end of his presidency in 1988, after a ravaging earthquake devastated Armenia, President Reagan ended a longstanding policy held throughout the Cold War and airlifted numerous planeloads of humanitarian assistance to then Soviet Armenia.
In a weekly radio address President Reagan saluted the people of Leninakan and Spitak, two cities in former Soviet Armenia which were destroyed by the Dec. 7, 1988 earthquake, and praised the international relief effort in Armenia. Closed borders open. Friends and enemies alike share the burden and hope to help. From Israel and war-torn Lebanon alike, supplies and aid have been sent to Soviet Armenia. And from the United States the response has been staggering, he said. Relief workers, tens of millions of dollars in private contributions, food, clothing, a cascade of good will and fellow feeling.
Proclamation 4838 -- Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust
April 22, 1981 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 deaths, 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 Days 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 eighty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fifth.
President of the United States of America