WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) hosted a presentation by Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) last week at St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church, where he shared his experience traveling to Armenia for the first time in 2016. During his travels, he met with Armenian officials, visited historical sites, and spoke at the American University of Armenia (AUA). Congressman Costa is a Member of the Armenian Caucus and has been a proud supporter of U.S.-Armenia relations for many years.
“The Armenian Assembly continues to encourage Members of Congress to visit Armenia and Artsakh to see first-hand the realities on the ground and the challenges facing the Armenian people,” said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “We thank Congressman Costa for his years of public service both in the California legislature and in the House of Representatives. We greatly appreciate his steadfast commitment to Armenia and for investing in the future leaders within our community,” Ardouny added.
Rep. Costa explained that he grew up in Fresno – the land of Saroyan – where he knew many friends and neighbors growing up who were Armenian. He appreciated the work ethic, tenacity, and hospitality of the Armenian people. The Congressman then recited Armenian American author William Saroyan’s famous quote: “I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.”
Congressman Costa spoke about many different people he met and places he visited. Along with the Head of the Armenian National Assembly (NA) Armenia-USA Friendship Group Samvel Nikoyan on July 20, 2016, Rep. Costa paid tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide at the memorial. Rep. Costa laid flowers at the eternal fire and honored in silence the memory of the victims. He toured the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute and watched the posters of the “Auction of Souls” silent movie starring Aurora Mardiganian. Rep. Costa concluded his visit to the memorial by writing a note in the guest book, just as Pope Francis had done a few weeks prior.
Rep. Costa also shared his presentation at AUA, where he spoke about U.S.-Armenia relations and the significant role that AUA plays in that relationship. In his remarks, Rep. Costa proudly announced the establishment of an endowment at AUA by Fresno resident Edward Kashian, reflecting the close existing relationship between California State University, Fresno (CSU Fresno) and AUA.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
Photo Caption 1: Assembly Terjenian-Thomas Intern Class of 2017 with Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA)
Photo Caption 2: Artsakh Representative to the U.S. Robert Avetisyan, Rev. Fr. Hovsep Karapetian, Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), Armenian Assembly Public Affairs Associate Danielle Saroyan, Armenian Assembly Grassroots & Development Associate Mariam Khaloyan, and Knights of Vartan Representative Kevork Marashlian
Photo Caption 3: Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) speaking to the audience