It was a historic day Saturday as President Joe Biden became the first United States President to recognize the deaths of Armenians more than 100 years ago as genocide.
Members of the Bay Area's Armenian community gathered Saturday at the Mount Davidson cross in San Francisco as they do every year. But this time around, things were a little different.
“We have this profound sense of relief and pride in government and president today to change the course of US foreign policy on the side of restoring our position as a champion and beacon of human rights,” said Roxanne Makasdjian with The Genocide Education Project.
President Biden, breaking with the many presidents before him, recognized the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
“The significance is for the first time in a very long arguably the first time that its been stated unequivocally by an American president we have recognition of the Armenian Genocide,” said Haig Baghdassarian with the Armenian National Committee of America.
The killings happened during World War I, now 106 years late, a historic move here in the United States.
President Biden’s decision to recognize the Armenian Genocide now puts political ties with Turkey in jeopardy. Turkey rejected president Biden’s statement Saturday.
California Lt. Governor Eleni Kulanalakis was among the speakers at Saturday's remembrance event in San Francisco.
“It is my solemn honor to stand with you here today to honor and remember the lives lost over 100 years ago,” she said.
Following Biden's announcement, many in the Armenian community said that a feeling of hope remains.
“This is a memorial site now dedicated to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide," said Baghdassarian. "We will continue to come together but this year, this is along with the feelings of sadness that we have and the justifiable anger it is also coupled with a sense of optimism about what the future holds.”