ST. PETERSBURG — More than 100 people gathered Thursday evening at the Florida Holocaust Museum for a service in memory of the 1-million to 1.5-million men, women and children who perished between 1915 and 1923 in what is referred to as the Armenian Genocide. The service, led by the Rev. Hovnan Demerjian of St. Hagop Armenian Church in Pinellas Park, above, also remembered the more than 11-million people who died during the Holocaust of World War II and "all who have perished because of their creed, the family they were born into and their background." The evening's program, which included a curator talk by Mary Johnson and a presentation by Eileen Barsamian Jennings, a child of Armenian Genocide survivors, marked the opening event of a new museum exhibit, "The Greatest Crime of the War: the Armenian Genocide during World War I." Armenians, a Christian minority in a Muslim community, lived in what is now eastern Turkey and in the southeastern part of the country that is today occupied principally by Kurds. Historians say that in 1915, the Central Committee of the Young Turk Party of the Ottoman Empire deported thousands of Armenians, sending them to starvation and death in the Syrian desert. Many were attacked and killed and young women were raped and forced into harems or to marry their abductors. The Florida Holocaust Museum exhibit, at 55 Fifth St. S, opened April 19 and will run through Oct. 19. The exhibition begins with a history of the Armenian people and follows the political and international events leading up to the genocide and the genocide itself.
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2283.