Your honor the Mayor, City Commissioners, Mr. City Manager, Madam Clerk, ladies and gentlemen:
I’m Nicholas Alahverdian and I am honored to appear before our dynamic mayor and distinguished commissioners once again. I would, for the last time, like to address the events of 1915. From the bottom of my heart, I want to express my gratitude for the proclamation of April 24, 2015 as “Armenian Centennial Remembrance Day”.
Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to reflect, pray, and ponder. My thoughts and prayers have been with those that were slaughtered, killed, or orphaned.
During my previous two visits before this honorable commission and your honor the mayor, I appeared here as an impassioned and unlikely descendant of the survivors of this blood-curdling nightmare.
But now, after much reflection and contemplation, I have come to the conclusion that now – more than ever – we must be cognizant of America’s democratic legacy.
By virtue of April 24th being called, “Centennial Remembrance Day”, I have learned a valuable lesson that I feel is worthy to be shared.
Our democratic legacy is at risk more than ever. We see equality of Americans at more risk than ever. Deplorable organizations like ISIS and al-qaeda threaten our safety. They threaten our freedom. They threaten our liberty. And we must defend our liberty.
We must not feed the fire of war
That is why we must not feed the fire of war. We must not dwell on the obsession of evil and exacting revenge – but we must insist on defending the future – starting with our families and our neighborhoods – our communities and our churches – and we start right here, in our great city.
It is even seen on is on the great seal of the United States- The eagle holds an olive branch – symbolic of peace – and arrows – symbolic of protection and defense. Which way does the eagle’s head face?
Towards the talons clasping the olive branches. But we have our arrows for times of need.
The Founding Fathers built a strong democratic legacy – a legacy can never forget.
A legacy that leaves with us a great experiment that we see in action – here – right at this very moment.
From small beginnings, great things come to pass. We declared our independence in a bold fashion.
We formed a Constitution.
We waved the banner of freedom – and those colors of liberty stand as a testament to all those blessed to live in this country.
And this freedom – this liberty – does not apply just to those born here. All women and men are created equal.
Our dynamism is what emboldens us
Whether we are citizens of this nation by birth, whether our ancestors braved the waters of the Atlantic on the Mayflower, or whether we just moved to this week – a city known around the globe for dynamism and innovation – last week, we are all Americans.
And that, from what I can perceive, is what embodies this city – that is what emboldens us, with unique community initiatives right here in our own city.
We are immigrants. We are citizens by birth. We are here to let our dreams come to pass – but above all – we are Americans.
America is still that great experiment.
We are still defending the right to govern ourselves. We are still kindling the flame of the freedom born in the hearts of our founding fathers.
We are creating new beginnings every day. Kenyans, Japanese, Chinese, German, Turkish, Armenian, Greek, Irish, Italian – and too many more to name – we are creating new beginnings.
We are welcoming more and more people to participate in the greatest demonstration of democracy that the world has ever seen – and that flame in our hearts will never be extinguished.
Yes there have been wars. Yes there has been blood shed.
But we move forward. And we stand united to progress in an age to prosper.
And what better place to do that than our great city?
Welcome them here, to our great inheritance. Welcome them here to build a new life, to make a new opportunity for their families.
No matter our heritage, no matter our religious conviction, no matter our nationality – we are – above all – Americans.
And it is in the American spirit that I wish to express gratitude for Armenian Centennial Remembrance Day. We warn those who threaten our democracy – they understand us perfectly. We try to reach out and understand – but no, they understand us perfectly.
We will not stand for intolerance, invasion, or ethnocentrism. They are anarchists – that is the role that they are determined to play and so it is our duty to play ours – the Americans that stop the anarchists.
To all else, we say remember this: you are welcome here. Welcome to America.
Let us celebrate that great spirit of freedom right here. No more wars. No more. Let’s make this place the home of those who harness the power of peace and say to all of our brothers and sisters: Welcome to our great city.
About Nicholas Alahverdian
Nicholas Alahverdian is a Harvard-educated scholar and political activist. As an adolescent, Nicholas survived torture and abuse inflicted upon him by the Rhode Island government under the direct orders of a chief judge and a governor following his political activism against them while Alahverdian was an employee of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
Nicholas was sent to two facilities far from New England that had extensive records of torture, abuse, and negligence. He was forced to remain in these abusive facilities until his 18th birthday and was not allowed to contact anyone, go to school, or prepare for adulthood. Alahverdian survived the torture, sued his abusers, settled in court, and studied at Harvard University.
The primary scholarly focus of Nicholas Alahverdian is the intersection of philology, rhetoric, and politics. He has been featured in The Providence Journal, NPR, BBC, NBC, CBS, and ABC News as well as The Buddy Cianci Show, The Boston Globe and countless other media entities.