Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Marks 20th Anniversary
Momentous day of events highlights Foundation’s mission, award for human rights advocates, bipartisan support for remembering 100 million victims of Communist regimes
WASHINGTON D.C. – The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) yesterday hosted a day of commemorative and celebratory events. The Foundation celebrates its 20th year, seven years since the opening of its Capitol Hill memorial to the Victims of Communism, and 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In addition, the foundation awarded its highest honor, the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Ukrainian human rights advocate and former political prisoner Myroslav Marynovych. Distinguished guests – including Members of Congress, human rights leaders, Ambassadors from roughly 20 countries, and survivors of communist regimes – gathered for the occasion.
The morning ceremony, held in front of the memorial in downtown Washington, featured remarks from Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA); Ms. Annette Lantos, Chairman of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice; Ms. Liliia Muslimova, spokeswoman for the Crimean Mejlis; H.E. Vaclav Klaus, former president of the Czech Republic; Dr. Yang Jianli, Founder of President of Initiatives for China; and Dr. Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Nearly 20 countries, roughly 18 non-profit and ethnic organizations, and several individuals laid wreaths in honor of the victims of communism around the world. Nearly 300 people attended the event. The ceremony was about “one thing—the brutal bloody reality of communism which over the last century has taken the lives of more than 100 million men, women and children and which controls the lives of over 1 billion people today,” said VOC Chairman Dr. Lee Edwards.
Following the ceremony, VOC co-hosted a luncheon at the Library of Congress with the Embassy of Austria and the Embassy of Hungary. The luncheon celebrated the triumph of liberty that came with the fall of the Iron Curtain a quarter-century ago. Speakers included Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT); Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH); Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD); and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX); Congressman Dennis Ross (R-FL); H.E. Hans Peter Manz, Ambassador of the Republic of Austria; and H.E. Gyorgy Szapary, Ambassador of Hungary. A panel discussion of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe followed. Panelists included Dr. Maria Schmidt, Director General of the Terror House museum in Budapest, Hungary; Dr. Richard Pipes, Professor Emeritus of History at Harvard University; Dr. Stephen Szabo, Director of the Transatlantic Academy at the German Marshall Fund; and Myroslav Marynovych.
VOC ended the day with a rooftop reception, featuring remarks by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL); Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL); and speakers from earlier in the day. Truman-Regan Medal recipient Myroslav Marynovych spoke about the need for justice for communist crimes: “Unrepented wrongdoing,” he said, “inevitably serves as a source of new problems.” He went on to argue for genuine reconciliation, hoping that “we may transform the former Bloodlands into the place of true reconciliation” through honest accusation, sincere confession, and real forgiveness.
For more information or to schedule an interview with VOC Executive Director Marion Smith, contact Vanessa at [email protected] or 202-997-1289.
Pictures of the Wreath Laying and Memorial ceremony can be found here.
Pictures of the Triumph of Liberty Luncheon can be found here.
Pictures of the Iron Curtain Falling panel discussion can be found here.
Pictures of the Capitol View Reception can be found here.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a Washington-based, non-profit educational and human rights organization devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes.
For more information or to schedule a press interview please contact Ayla Ybarra at [email protected] or (202) 629-9500.