Whereas, the Empire State is home to many ethnic communities whose members benefit from the freedom and democracy upon which our Nation was founded; as a global leader in many areas of basic human and social rights, New York State has a prominent role in acknowledging events in history -- many of them tragic and distressing -- that teach valuable lessons from which our greater society benefits; one such event is the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus and Asia Minor, a tragedy that took the lives of an estimated 353,000 Greek civilians during World War I; and
Whereas, these Greeks, whose ancestors had lived in communities along present-day northern Turkey near the Black Sea for three millennia, were singled out by the Turkish authorities for expulsion along with Armenians and Assyrians; from 1915-1923, Pontian Greeks endured immeasurable cruelty during a Turkish Government-sanctioned campaign to displace them; an estimated 353,000 Pontian Greeks died while being forcibly marched without provisions across the Anatolian plains to the Syrian border and those who survived were exiled from Turkey and today they and their descendants live throughout the Greek diaspora; and
Whereas, the Turkish perpetrators of genocide in Asia Minor were notably brutal when executing their campaign to displace Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians from their ancestral lands; the former¹s attack on the latter was widely noticed but largely unchecked by the world community; the celebrated book, "Not Even My Name," is one of the few English-language accounts of the Pontian Genocide; it is a touching story of perseverance, triumph and healing, and makes an important contribution to the treasury of works that clarify our understanding of this dark chapter in history; and
Whereas, it is believed by many that acknowledgment and awareness of this shameful event will not only teach future generations, but also will help mankind prevent such crimes from being repeated; this concept is particularly important as our State works to instill in youth, a universal respect for other cultures, races, religions and viewpoints; and
Whereas, it is fitting that all freedom-loving people worldwide and New Yorkers alike, share in the solemn commemoration of the Pontian Genocide of 1915-23, and join with the Greek-American community and its many religious, communal and philanthropic organizations as they honor the sacrifices and memory of their noble ancestors;
Now, Therefore, I, George E. Pataki, Governor of the State of New York, do hereby proclaim May 19, 2002 as
PONTIAN GREEK GENOCIDE
in the Empire State.