Photo of the governor by J.D. Lasica
California’s governor reflects on the Armenian genocide — and how it still affects his people’s spirit
This Q&A with the sitting governor of California appeared in The Sacramento Bee and was reprinted in the magazine Ararat. It was one of the few one-on-one interviews Deukmejian granted during his governorship.
By J.D. Lasica
Gov. George Deukmejian, who is looked upon as a source of pride in the nation’s Armenian community, has made public discussion of the Ottoman Empire massacres a recurring theme of his administration. The governor’s parents emigrated to this country from Armenia in 1907 and 1909, before the massacres of 1915-18. Following are excerpts from an hourlong interview conducted by J.D. Lasica:
Let’s start off with your early years. Were there some Armenian traditions that thrived in the Deukmejian household?
Oh, absolutely. My parents were very much involved in Armenian community activities. My father used to participate in some of the Armenian fraternal organizations. … My mother was actively involved with what they called the Armenian Relief Society, which is like the Armenian Red Cross. My mother used to sing at a lot of different Armenian events and functions, and my sister was a very accomplished pianist and so she had to play the piano while my mother sang. And obviously little Corky, as I was called in those days, used to have to go along to all these events.
Where was your home?
It’s in a village called Menands, New York. It’s like a suburb of Albany.