VOC Welcomes Incoming Baltic Diplomats, Commemorates Black Ribbon Day
On August 23rd, 2015, the Joint Baltic American National Committee together with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, diplomatic representatives of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and members of the Baltic-American community held a solemn wreath laying ceremony to commemorate Black Ribbon Day.
Incoming Lithuanian Ambassador Rolandas Kriščiūnas, the new Latvian Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Ilmārs Breidaks, and the new Estonian Deputy Chief of Mission Mrs. Marki Tihhonova-Kreek delivered remarks at the foot of the VOC memorial. Their speeches highlighted the importance of remembering the victims of totalitarian regimes and the sinister character of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
On August 23rd in 1939, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. The treaty assured Hitler that he could invade Poland without any interference from the East. Within a few days after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed, Hitler invaded Poland and World War II began.
In the 1980s, members of the Baltic diaspora community living abroad began organizing Black Ribbon Day protests on August 23rd to mark the intertwined legacies and victims of German fascism and Soviet communism.
Last year, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 4435, designating August 23rd as Black Ribbon Day. Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois, co-chairman of the House Baltic Caucus, sponsored the legislation. The bill needs to be reintroduced in Congress this year in both houses in order for the United States to join countries around the world marking August 23rd as Black Ribbon Day and commemorating the millions of victims of Nazi and Communist regimes.
At the commemoration, VOC Chairman Dr. Lee Edwards and VOC Executive Director Marion Smith assured those present that VOC will continue to support all efforts to make August 23 an official day of remembrance for all victims of totalitarian regimes in the United States.
For more information or to schedule a press interview please contact Ayla Ybarra at [email protected] or (202) 629-9500.