Foreign diplomats, civic organizations, and Republican and Democratic leaders came together on Tuesday to remember the victims of communism.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation hosted the ceremony to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the unveiling of the Victims of Communism Memorial, a bronze replica of the “Goddess of Democracy” statue erected by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1989.
Following a moment of silence, foundation chairman Lee Edwards opened the ceremony with a speech noting the importance of education and perseverance. He also emphasized the foundation’s bipartisanship, saying, “For those who say bipartisanship is dead in this city, I call their attention to our featured speakers this morning—Annette Lantos and Donald Rumsfeld. You can’t get more bipartisan than that. Our foundation believes and practices that politics should stop at the water’s edge.”
Annette Lantos, chair of the Lantos Foundation and wife of the late former Congressman Tom Lantos (D–CA), spoke about her husband’s legacy and the hardship her family endured in Communist Hungary. She stressed the fact that everyone has a right to freedom and a duty to protect the freedom of others.
Other speakers included Albanian-American Civic League President Joe dioGuardi, Representative Andy Harris (R–MD), Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation board member Anhthu Lu, and Women’s Rights without Frontiers president Reggie Littlejohn.
Former Estonian ambassador to the U.S. Aldona Wos presented former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with the Truman–Reagan Medal of Freedom. Rumsfeld spoke briefly about the importance of the memorial and the foundation. He also asked the crowd to remember those around the world who still live under totalitarian regimes.
Also in attendance were representatives from the embassies of Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine; the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office; the Albanian–American Freedom House; AFGE Local 1912 for Voice of America, the Belarusan–American Association; the Friends of Hue Foundation; the International Campaign for Tibet; the International Committee for Crimea; the Laogai Research Foundation; the New Kuban Cossack Community; the North Korea Freedom Coalition; and VNTV Ohana from Hawaii.
They laid wreaths and bowed their heads in remembrance of the countless victims who lost their lives at the hands of communism.
Nick Mignanelli is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.