Today I join Armenians and their friends in the United States in rejoicing that President Biden officially recognized the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. 

As the first American president to affirm that the systematic killing and deportation of Armenians were part of a genocide more than a century ago, President Biden opts for principle over expediency and upholds human rights.  

The Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan evoked for me emotions and reflections at the heart of the dual nature of humanity—as formidable, yet profoundly vulnerable.  Its solid, towering structures conjure a vivid sense of suffering and loss, while its perpetually-burning flame reminds us that resilience and hope can endure, faintly glowing in times of pain and blazing brightly when the world acknowledges the value of a people, culture and history.

At Fresno State, 4,000 people witnessed the Fresno State Armenian Genocide Monument dedication on April 24, 2015, after our community came together to make it a reality, and I’ve been back to the monument each April 24 since. It is unique as the only monument at a university campus dedicated to the Armenian Genocide, though we hope that this does not remain so, as awareness of the harrows of genocides is the only avenue to learning the lessons of the past.  

The top of our monument has a circle that has been cut — forming the shape of a severed halo to represent the Armenians who perished in the genocide. The halo points towards the heavens, symbolizing Fresno State’s commitment to remembrance, hope, education and inspiration.

Here is a video message that the Interim President prepared for today’s remembrance of the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.