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110-year-old Armenian Genocide survivor recognized at Boston ceremony

Boston recognizes 109 years since Armenian Genocide, honors 110-year-old survivor
Boston recognizes 109 years since Armenian Genocide, honors 110-year-old survivor 02:05

BOSTON - Boston marked 109 years since the Armenian Genocide began with a commemoration at the State House, where a 110-year-old genocide survivor was also honored.

Day of remembrance

The Armenian community recognizes April 24 as Martyrs' Day, the day when the mass murder and ethnic cleansing of more than 1 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire began in 1915. To this day, Turkey continues to deny the killings as a genocide, arguing there were losses on both sides. President Joe Biden became the first American president to recognize the genocide.  

Mary Vartanian, 110, was honored as the distinguished guest by the Massachusetts House Chambers at the commemoration. Vartanian was recognized for keeping Armenian culture alive in Massachusetts.

"And whereas Mary's strong work ethic has earned her the respect and appreciation of many in her community, now therefore be it resolved that the Massachusetts Senate and the House together hereby commends Mary Vartanian for her contributions to the Armenian-American community in the Commonwealth," read State Sen. Will Brownsberger (D-Suffolk and Middlesex).

Born during genocide and survived

Vartanian, who lives in Jamaica Plain, received a special escort from Boston Police to the State House. Her family said she was born during the genocide and moved to the United States in the 1970s. She's been at the genocide commemoration at the State House every year but this is the first year she's been honored. Her family said she credits her long life to a strong sense of family and culture.

The commemoration began with children from St. Stephen's Armenian Elementary School in Watertown singing the Armenian national anthem. State Rep. David Muradian (R-9th Worcester), one of two Armenian-Americans serving the House, also spoke.

"I'm one of two Armenians to currently serve in the Massachusetts State House, an honor of which I and we do not take for granted," said Muradian.

Muradian and other lawmakers wore forget-me-not flower lapel pins for the event, a flower that symbolizes the genocide.

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