04/22/15 - Remarks offered on the Senate floor in remembrance of the Armenian Genocide - Mr. President, I rise to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, widely recognized as the first genocide of the 20th century. April 24, 1915 marked the beginning of a horrific period in our world's history and for the Armenian people. On this day, agents of the Ottoman Empire rounded up and executed Armenian community leaders, poets, and intellectuals. What ensued was the systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children at the hands of the Ottoman Turkish government. From 1915 to 1923, the world witnessed the attempted destruction of the Armenian people for no reason other than their very existence. Unfortunately, the events surrounding the Armenian genocide are fraught with denial. But the case is simple. When Raphael Lemkin coined the term ``genocide'' in the 1940s, he had what happened to the Armenians in mind as a definitive example. Those who perished experienced some of the worst aspects of humanity. But the campaign to exterminate the Armenian people failed. And those who survived embodied the best qualities of the human spirit: hope, resilience, perseverance, and love. Some survivors made their way to America, and many of them built their new lives in Michigan. They have created thriving communities, built businesses, raised families, and contributed to the fabric of what makes the State of Michigan so great. Their descendants carry on these values, and the richness of their culture is part of what gives vibrancy to our State. The Armenians in Michigan boast a community of well over 20,000. It is the largest in the Midwest, and I am proud to represent them. To commemorate the 100th anniversary, Michigan's Armenian community has organized a number of events, lectures, art exhibits, concerts, and vigils to remember the victims of the genocide, to educate their communities, and to look to the future. I applaud their efforts to preserve their culture and identity. Over the last century, the Armenians of Michigan erected churches, established community centers, and built a day school. They also founded educational centers such as the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. International language and linguistics courses at Wayne State University are located in Manoogian Hall, which was named after the notable Detroit-Armenian philanthropist and businessman Alex Manoogian. These are just part of the Armenian community's contributions to Michigan. While Armenians have found prosperity in their new home, they have not forgotten those who did not live to see what the future held for their people. Many of Michigan's Armenian community members have written books and recorded accounts of what happened to their families in 1915 in an effort to shed light and increase awareness. These stories will carry on for generations, and remind us all that if we do not recognize the atrocities of the past we risk blinding ourselves to the atrocities that could still occur today. Charging toward a peaceful future requires making peace with the past. Denial does not serve our American values. Denial minimizes the great tragedy that fell upon the victims, the survivors, and their descendants. Over 40 States have affirmed the Armenian genocide, including Michigan. I have called on, and will continue to call on, the President to formally recognize that the atrocities committed against the Armenian people were in fact genocide. Recognition of the Armenian genocide is long overdue. A crime like this casts a long shadow. This shadow can be conquered only by light--the light of truth that comes from fully acknowledging the full scale of the horror that the Armenians endured.