Los Angeles, CA – The Armenian National Committee-Western Region (ANC-WR) will be honoring President Ronald Reagan with the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Award at the organization’s annual banquet on October 12, 2008 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. “President Ronald Reagan was the last President to refer to the Armenian Genocide properly,” stated ANC-WR Annual Banquet Chairwoman Aida Dimejian. “This year’s banquet will honor those words and the statement President Reagan made. As a community we shall look with an eager eye to the future where Turkish intimidation and threats will not bully American leaders,” she added. Ronald Reagan began his years in politics as a close friend and supporter of the Armenian American community. As California Governor from 1966 through 1974, Reagan reached out to Armenian Americans and joined in their annual commemorations of the Armenian Genocide. Most notably, in 1969, 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 at the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Montebello, where he gave a rousing 15-minute speech honoring the victims of that crime against humanity. “I am proud and appreciate this opportunity to participate in this event,” said Gov. Reagan. “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.”
Following his election to the presidency in 1980, Reagan distinguished himself as the last U.S. President to properly acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as “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.
In the last days of his second term, President Reagan led a U.S. effort to help the victims of the devastating December 7th, 1988 earthquake in Armenia. Reversing a 40-year standing policy that lasted throughout the Cold War, President Reagan airlifted several planeloads of humanitarian assistance to Soviet Armenia within weeks of the tragedy. In his December 25th radio address to the American people, Reagan stated that, in the time of tragedy, “the real differences that divide us and will continue to divide us fall away.” He went on to note the tremendous outpouring of U.S. assistance in light of the earthquake in Armenia. “From the United States the response has been staggering,” he said. Individuals interested in learning more about the ANC-WR banquet are encouraged to contact ANC-WR Banquet Coordinator Aida Dimejian at (818) 500-1918 or visit www.itsmyseat.com. The banquet is slated to begin at 3:30 pm with the cocktail hour and dinner and program set to begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. The Armenian National Committee – Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANC-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
Photo Caption: President Ronald Reagan.