In honor of Friday marking the 105th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian American community is raising funds to donate more than 1.5 million meals to those in need amid the coronavirus pandemic, in honor of 1.5 million Armenians who were killed by the Ottoman Turks.
For the past 55 years, the Armenian community of Los Angeles has marched the streets of Hollywood to commemorate the memory of — and demand recognition for — the Armenian Genocide of 1915. This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re switching gears to help American families affected by the crisis.
“In honor of the 1.5 million lives, we are committing to donate enough funds to support 1.5 million meals for Americans in need,” Alex Galitsky of the Armenian National Committee of America said.
In less than a week, that goal was surpassed, with 3,300,000 meals donated through Feeding America, the nation’s largest network of food banks, pantries and meal programs. The We Thank You America campaign was organized by the Armenian Genocide Committee, the United Armenian Council and the Unified Young Armenians.
The initiative gives thanks to a humanitarian mission called Near East Foundation, formed by the U.S. a century ago, which helped save 132,000 Armenian orphans displaced by the genocide and established hospitals and refugee camps.
In December, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide, prompting denunciations by Turkey, which accused the U.S. of undermining its relations with a key NATO ally.
Every year, on April 24, the community and allies rally in front of the Turkish Consulate in L.A. to demand that the perpetrators of the genocide recognize the atrocity. More than 100,000 Angelenos participated in the March for Justice in the 100th year commemoration in 2015.
“Next year, hopefully when all is better, we will be back to the streets to demand justice for the wrongs that were done to the Armenian people during the first genocide of the 20th century,” Glendale City Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian said.
This year, in lieu of marches, events are all virtual.
“My great-grandfather was murdered but my grandfather was a survivor. … I never forget that,” mayor of Montebello Jack Hadjinian said. “Growing up I knew that this was the day that I had to spend my day commemorating, attending a protest… and now it’s like I’m going to do that from my living room.”
In a message to the diaspora community, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “We will never stop fighting,” repeating the same message in Armenian for the 150,000 Armenians living in L.A. County.
To donate, visit 1915neveragain.org. Every $1 pays for 10 meals.
This piece was originally published on KTLA.