Jimmy Carter

May 16, 1978

Reception Honoring Armenian Americans
Remarks at the White House Reception, May 16, 1978

The first thing I want to say is that it is an honor for Rosalynn and me to have you here in our home, which is also your home.

In preparation for the previous meeting that I had with your group in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing, I went back and studied some of the history of the Armenian people. And I, again, am impressed with the tremendous contribution that you've made to our own Nation, the high examples that you've set in leadership, in music, arts, in business, in politics, in education, and in your sound political judgment in choosing to be Democrats, also in your very early support of me when I ran for President. Yours was the first group that had confidence in me, and I will always remember it. And your help for our party and our country is something that I appreciate very much.

As one of the oldest people in the world, you have, I think, struggled with great courage and tenacity to preserve your own identity, your own customs, and, too, in a very modest way, let the world come to appreciate what you've accomplished.

I feel close to you because you were the first Christian people, first Christian nation, and because of that, your deep religious beliefs, I doubt that any other people have ever suffered more. I know that through the early years of the foundation of your people's home, you suffered a great deal. But it's generally not known in the world that in the years preceding 1916, there was a concerted effort made to eliminate all the Armenian people, probably one of the greatest tragedies that ever befell any group. And there weren't any Nuremberg trials. There weren't any high public figures who recognized how much you and your families had to suffer.

Well, I feel very deeply that I, as President, ought to make sure that this is never forgotten, not only the tragedy of your history but also the present contributions that you make and the bright future that you have.

Jimmy Carter