The casualties totaled approximately 1.5 million and, for almost a century, the Ottoman/Turkish government has still not acknowledged their ancestors' actions as genocide. In fact, most international governments have condemned the current Turkish government for denying that what happened in 1915 was a genocide. Most countries around the world have recognized the Genocide, except for Turkey, the United States, and a handful of others, despite historical record.
It pains me that many people around the world are still not aware of the significance of April 24, 1915, the official start date of the Armenian Genocide, when Armenian intellectuals were targeted and arrested just for being Armenian/Christian. Hundreds of thousands of others were forced to march for approximately 500 miles to what is now Syria. Without food or water. Without their dignity. Some died along the way, some made it to their final destination and were then killed, and some, like my ancestors, survived and thrived in spite of the systematic execution of their people. That's what genocide means: "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group."
In honor of this most significant day in my ethnic history, I watched my mother, the daughter of a Genocide orphan (her father was torn away from his family and grew up in an orphanage in Syria), cook my favorite Armenian dish: Wedding Pilaf or "Ghoozoo Ichi" as we call it. It is made with rice and ground beef, a seven spice blend, and nuts, but most importantly it is made with our heritage in mind. It represents the Armenian diaspora, as the recipe draws from a Middle Eastern dish my mother learned to make in Lebanon. It is the ultimate comfort food and today, it makes me proud to call myself Armenian.
Take time today to educate yourselves about what happened on April 24, 1915: not a massacre, not a holocaust. A genocide.