As April 24 approaches this year, I know how important that date is to me. Not many people pause to reflect on that date in history and what it meant to an entire nation of good, prospering people in the year 1915.

As an American-born citizen of several biological origins, I grew up not fully grasping how April 24, 1915, affected me. All I knew was that Armenia was the first country in the world to declare Christianity as its religion and that many Armenians had long, strange names.

My grandparents were able to escape to the United States when the Turkish state wanted to eliminate the Armenian population and gain control of Armenian lands, finances and higher learning. Armenian families in many towns throughout Turkey were told they must leave their homes.

They had no idea they would never return. They had no idea that their fathers, sons and husbands would be executed and that their children would be raped and often burned alive. The elderly and the women would face the same fates. They were unarmed and put into forced marches only to march to their deaths. It is recorded that nearly 1.5 million Armenians died in this horrific manner.

Atrocities are happening in the world today. Cruelty and violence of all kinds continue. Bullies usually don’t admit their actions, but switch the focus back on their victims. I lost my great-grandparents, great-aunts, uncles and cousins. They were taken, forever, from my family.

Please pause on Monday to remember the Armenians, the Rwandans, the Syrians and the millions of other victims of violence. Pray for peace.

Sandra Mesrobian Fordyce

South Portland