WASHINGTON, DC — The Armenian Assembly of America (convention) marked its 50th anniversary with a special event honoring Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with the Assembly Ambassador Henry Morgenthau Award for her strong support and Leading the US reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide.
The event, which represented a cross-section of Armenian-American organizations and was filled with an impressive number of young and working professionals, was held on Thursday, November 17, 2022 at The Willard Hotel in Washington, DC and included a salute to the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, led by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA ).
Speaker Pelosi, who received multiple standing ovations during her remarks, thanked the gathering for the “very high honor” of receiving an award in honor of an outstanding and heroic diplomat who courageously championed human rights and helped save the Armenian people. Spokesman Pelosi noted that it was a “privilege” to receive an award named after Ambassador Morgenthau, “who unequivocally and without hesitation sounded the alarm against the Armenian genocide.”
She thanked the assembly committee for its “excellent leadership” and stressed that the assembly “has been an invaluable force in forging ties between America and Armenia for half a century.”
“It has been a pleasure working with you in our cherished Armenian-American community and in my hometown of San Francisco,” she said. “You are all active advocates, and I thank those of you who I have seen firsthand lobbying heavily and lobbying.”
She emphasized that visiting the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan was a “life-changing experience, where we learned the horrifying truths about the 1.5 million murdered Armenians and where we spoke the names of the communities that were wiped out. With that eternal flame, we felt the pain and the open wounds.”
Reflecting further on her trip, she said it was a “thrill” to lead the delegation alongside MPs Anna Eshoo, Frank Pallone and Jackie Speier.
“We have made very clear that the US condemns in the strongest possible terms the attacks by Azerbaijan as illegal, brutal and escalating, threatening prospects for a long-awaited and much-needed peace deal,” spokeswoman Pelosi said. “In the weeks since, both parties and the Biden administration have redoubled diplomatic efforts to pave a path to peace.”
Spokesperson Pelosi went on to say that the world needed to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, and the 2019 passage of H.Res.296, authored by Rep. Adam Schiff, was the culmination of a decades-long struggle. Thanks to President Biden’s support and leadership, the historic move of formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide in the US, based on “bipartisan cooperation in Congress,” came to fruition.
“We are committed to combating efforts to erase history that denies the truth,” said spokeswoman Pelosi. “America is committed to upholding freedom and security in Armenia and around the world…at this difficult moment, we draw inspiration from the Armenian people who keep the flame burning now and for centuries to come.”
In his remarks, Rep. Pallone thanked the congregation and other organizations across the diaspora working on behalf of Armenia and Artsakh.
“We in Congress would not be able to do the things we do without you because you are our backbone that supports all of our initiatives and drives people to join the Armenian caucus,” Rep. Pallone said. “Although it might be frustrating at times, keep at it because what you’re doing is so important.”
Referring to Speaker Pelosis’ efforts within the Armenian Caucus, Rep. Pallone said she “really knows when she can make a difference.”
“Speaker Pelosi knew when was the right time to get the votes for recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and that’s one of the main reasons we were able to get H.Res.296 through,” he said.
Speaking of Azerbaijan’s recent aggression, he said Speaker Pelosi “understands the dangers facing Armenia and Artsakh and is determined to bring us to Armenia at this crucial time to make it clear that the US is with Armenia and.” it would speak out against the aggression taking place.”
Introducing Speaker Pelosi, Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny highlighted her 35-year track record as a champion of human rights and democracy and on Armenian affairs. He cited the many times Speaker Pelosi attended commemorations of the Armenian Genocide on Capitol Hill.
He also addressed their strong support for Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act and their efforts to prevent the provision from being repealed.
“The Speaker stood with us on the House floor, and when the armed forces tried to overturn that provision of the law, we prevailed on the 231-182 floor,” Ardouny said. “And this September, as the spokeswoman, the senior US official to visit Armenia, traveled at a critical time and condemned Azerbaijan’s ‘illegal and deadly attacks on Armenia,’ she helped defuse Azerbaijan’s escalation and helped save lives .”
He concluded, “The Speaker has been with us every step of the way, setting an example in the House and strongly supporting the resolution on the Armenian Genocide,” which passed the House by a vote of 405 to 11.
Assembly President Carolyn Mugar expressed her “gratitude and love” to Speaker Pelosi.
“There is no substitute for being present and you showed the world that you were present when you demonstrated that the US is an ally of the Armenians,” Mugar said. “From the bottom of our hearts you will be engraved in our hearts and in our history books.”
In her welcoming remarks, Assembly Trustees Annie Simonian Totah stated that 2022 had been a very important year for the Assembly as it celebrated its 50th anniversary. She paid tribute to distinguished guests, ambassadors, embassy representatives, military attachés, elected officials, and current and former statesmen, including Ambassador John Evans, a former Ambassador Morgenthau Prize recipient, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Oksana Markarova, and Ambassador of Armenia to the US Lilit Makunts. She turned to Speaker Pelosi and said:
“Mrs. Speaker, you were and are a remarkable woman and role model, and we are certain that your incredible career will be etched in the halls of the US Congress and in American government and history books that students go to about everything.” to experience you.”
Assembly Vice-Chairman Anthony Barsamian recognized the importance of the bipartisan Congressional Committee on Armenian Affairs and welcomed it. Barsamian thanked Speaker Pelosi for “highlighting the human rights abuses taking place in the South Caucasus region” and appreciated the support of the United States, the largest democracy, to the Republic of Armenia, a burgeoning democracy.
The Vice-Chairman of the Assembly, Van Krikorian, noted the presence of important Armenian-American organizations in his closing remarks.
“This is the same concept that led to the founding of the assembly 50 years ago,” said Krikorian. “Our commitment to bipartisanship has paid off over the years in both Armenian and American contexts, and Speaker Pelosi, when we say thank you, we mean it from the bottom of our hearts.”
The closing prayer was led by Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Diocese and Ecumenical Director of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), who stated Speaker Pelosi is “an integral part of Armenian history” and that “future generations” will remember her speak.