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WASHINGTON, DC - The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) is pleased to announce that the White House is finalizing plans to prominently display the Armenian Orphan Rug, also known as the Coolidge Rug, at the White House Visitor Center November 18-23, 2014, reported the Assembly. The carpet will be showcased as part of an exhibition entitled "Thank you to the United States: Three Gifts to Presidents in Gratitude for American Generosity Abroad," according to a statement from the White House shared in advance with the Assembly.
The Assembly has been working with Members of Congress and the White House to secure the release of the iconic carpet, woven by orphaned girls of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. The Coolidge Rug gained notoriety last year when a planned exhibition of the carpet at the Smithsonian Institute was cancelled. Media reports at the time alleged that the government of Turkey ultimately blocked the planned exhibit.
|The Armenian Orphan Rug|
Last November, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and David Valadao (R-CA) spearheaded a letter to the White House, signed by over 30 Members of Congress, urging the release of the Armenian Orphan Rug for public display. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) also weighed in with a letter to the White House. Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) said the following regarding today's announcement: "The White House has taken an important step in recognizing historical accuracy by displaying the Armenian orphan rug. The rug was presented to President Coolidge on behalf of the Armenian people to honor the U.S. assistance provided during the Armenian genocide. As a result, this cultural treasure has become a symbol of the strong and historic ties between the United States and Armenia."
For over a decade, the Assembly has called on the White House and the State Department to facilitate the release of the Armenian Orphan Rug for public display. Following the cancelled exhibition at the Smithsonian, the Assembly embarked on a #ReleaseTheRug campaign and has been working closely with Dr. H. Martin Deranian, author of "President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug," in raising awareness of this historic carpet. In addition, the Assembly has displayed in Massachusetts and Florida a "Sister Rug" woven by the same orphans. A presentation of the "Sister Rug" is also planned for California on November 6, 2014.
In 1925 Dr. John H. Finley, editor-in-chief of the New York Times and vice-chairman of the congressionally chartered Near East Relief organization, presented a rug made by orphans of the Armenian Genocide to President Calvin Coolidge. The rug was made in appreciation of America's generosity in aiding the survivors of the first genocide of the 20th Century. It was previously displayed at the White House in 1984 and 1995, but not since.
"The Armenian Orphan Rug, given to President Coolidge as a symbolic thank you for America's humanitarian relief effort in helping to save the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, is a treasured piece of American history," stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "As such we welcome today's announcement by the White House and look forward to the permanent display of this historic rug," Ardouny continued.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.