EAST ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — For Max and Lita Boudakian, the recognition by the U.S. president of the deportation and killings of over a million Armenians as “genocide” is personal.
Both Max’s and Lita’s families were impacted.
“I have never known my grandparents, either side. Uncles, aunts, cousins. All wiped out,” Max told News 8.
“They were placed on forced marches,” Max described, “and my mother was the sole survivor.”
Members of Lita’s family, including her father, fled to a refugee camp, eventually finding passage to Seattle.
“My father was in the camp with his uncle for about three years,” said Lita. “He wrote a diary, which I had translated to English and I gave to all our children and grandchildren.”
Max’s and Lita’s relatives found a home in the United States. After more than a century, the U.S. president is explicitly using the word “genocide” to describe the killings.
“Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,” the Saturday statement from President Biden read in-part.
The president’s statement says in 1915, during the time of the Ottoman Empire, the state which encompassed what is today known as Turkey deported and massacred one and a half million Armenians.
Biden joins other world governments in calling the acts genocide, the first American president to use that word to describe what happened.
“Finally they have joined the group in recognizing this tragedy,” Max said.
“Just the acknowledgment of the truth, I think, has been a release of tension that has been held by the Armenian people for all these years,” said Lita.