Dedication set for memorial to communism’s victims

Dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial, which honors the more than 100 million people killed under totalitarian communist regimes, is scheduled June 12 during a day full of activities in Washington, D.C.

The memorial, located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, New Jersey Avenue and G Street, resembles the “Goddess of Democracy” statue erected by demonstrating Chinese students during the 1989 unrest in Tiananmen Square.

Nearly USD 1 million in private funding was raised for the memorial by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which was formed in 1993. The government of Latvia gave USD 1,500, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We have tried to focus a public spotlight on the crimes and victims of communism so that the world will never forget and never again allow so evil a tyranny to terrorize the world,” foundation chairman Lee Edwards said in a press release.

Four events will highlight the day of dedication: unveiling of the memorial itself, a reception for guests, a roundtable discussion on communism and its victims and a gala awards dinner.

The dedication begins at 10 a.m. at the site of the memorial. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) will give the keynote adddress. A reception will follow at the National Guard Association Hall of States at 1 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.

A roundtable discussion, “The Victims and Crimes of Communism,” is scheduled at 2 the Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave. N.E. Among panelists are Richard Pipes of Harvard University, an historian of Russia and the Soviet Union; Paul Hollander, a professor emeritus of sociology and an associate at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies; Alan Kors, a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania; former U.S. State Department official Paul Goble, and Harry Wu, a Chinese human rights activist.

The events conclude with a 6 p.m. gala awards dinner and program at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. The keynote speaker will be Elena Bonner, widow of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. The Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom will be presented to William F. Buckley Jr. and posthumously to Sen. Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson.

The day of dedication coincides with the 20th anniversary of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s challenge to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev during a 1987 speech at the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin, West Germany. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” Reagan said. Two years later, the Berlin Wall—built in 1961 to prevent escapes from East Berlin to the West—began to be dismantled. The Soviet Union itself collapsed in 1991.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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