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St. John’s celebrating Armenian National Day

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MASSENA - St. John’s Episcopal Church, Massena, is putting out the welcome mat on Sunday for anyone who wants to learn about Armenian history.

They’ll be celebrating Armenian National Day at 2 p.m. in their parish hall with a film, “The Armenian Genocide,” along with personal stories from some of Massena’s Armenian citizens.

The Rev. Elizabeth Papazoglakis, church rector, said it’s an opportunity for others to learn about the rich heritage of Massena’s Armenian community.

“We invited all the Armenian people that were on our roll. We invited them to invite the Armenian people in the community and anybody else in the community who would like to hear the Armenian story. We’re asking people to come together and learn their story. If they’re people of Armenian descent, they can come and share their story. It’s just a gathering to honor them,” she said.

The 2006 film, “The Armenian Genocide,” is a 60-minute documentary produced by PBS. It explores the Ottoman Empire killings of more than 1 million Armenians during World War I and features never-before-seen historical footage of the events and key players.

“They use real clips with historians telling the story of what’s gone on. Their stories have not been told. When you hear holocaust, you hear Jews. Yes, that was a horrific story that began in 1915,” the Rev. Papazoglakis said.

The genocide started in April 1915 and Genocide Remembrance Day is held on April 24.

“It was more conducive on our calendars to honor this in September,” she said.

The Rev. Papazoglakis said that when she and her husband, the Rev. Tom Papazoglakis arrived at St. John’s, they found a tapestry that had been a gift to the church from Armenians who worshipped there.

“We were very interested in learning their stories,” she said.

On Sunday, everyone will have an opportunity to hear those stories.

“It’s really important to keep these stories alive and have an appreciation for the citizens that live among us. We need to make sure people know what are other people are capable of doing,” the Rev. Papazoglakis said. “If you don’t know what happened in the past, you can’t conceive that it’s happening again.

Refreshments will be served during the event.

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