Memorial to victims of communism advances

A memorial to victims of communism is one step closer to being built in Washington, D.C., the Joint Baltic American National Committee has announced. The National Capital Memorial Commission on July 29 approved a site at the northeast corner of Maryland and Constitution avenues for the monument.

The bronze monument, which would resemble the “goddess of democracy” made famous in 1989 during the three-month Tiananmen Square protest in China, still needs approval from U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission, both of which are to meet in September.

Cost of the project is estimated at between USD 300,000 and USD 500,000. California sculptor Thomas Marsh, who has created a similar statue in San Francisco, has been commissioned to create the monument, according to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Originally, the foundation wanted to build a museum at a cost estimated at USD 100 million. Instead, the foundation says it will now develop an online museum.

The memorial was authorized in 1993 with passage of the so-called FRIENDSHIP Act, post-Cold War federal legislation that changed or repealed various regulations with an aim to improving relations with Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. The very last section of the act authorized the National Captive Nations Committee to build and maintain in the District of Columbia a monument to the more than 100 million people worldwide killed under communist regimes. However, no federal funds are to be used for the monument.

The National Captive Nations Committee set up the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation to gather funding and build the memorial. JBANC’s Managing Director Karl Altau is a member of the foundation’s board.

Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois, on July 22 introduced a resolution (H.Res. 752) in the U.S. House of Representatives offering continued support for the memorial. The resolution has been referred to the House Committee on Resources.

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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