The national convention of the American Legion joins a long list of Americans of all political views in condemning inclusion of a bust of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. Some 3,000 delegates last week adopted a resolution saying the Stalin bust “flies in the face of history which has seen countries tearing down—not erecting—statues of Stalin.”
So far, the reaction of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, which installed the Stalin bust in June and in the wake of outrage is “reviewing” the decision, continues to be … silence.
The American Legion’s action follows opposition to the Stalin bust expressed by, among others, the Central and East European Coalition, representing 20 million Americans; the North Korea Freedom Coalition; the Joint Baltic American National Committee; and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, of which I am chairman. Also weighing in against the bust: Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA); Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), whose district includes Bedford and the memorial grounds; the Bedford County Board of Supervisors; and, in an editorial, The Washington Post.
In the 10 weeks since the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation began a petition campaign, more than 4,400 individuals and institutions have put their names on the line urging officials at the private National D-Day Memorial to do the honorable thing and remove the bust without further delay. Many of those who signed explained their disapproval.
Romuald E. Lipinski wrote: “As a Siberia survivor, where I was deported on Stalin’s order, at age of 14, I protest in strongest terms against displaying his monument in Bedford or anywhere else in the civilized world.”
Leslie L. Megyeri wrote: “During the 1956 Hungarian Freedom Fight, I participated in the removal of the despised Stalin statue in Budapest. As a U.S. Army veteran, I am appalled that I find a Stalin statue in the U.S.”
Veaceslav Vasiliev wrote: “I sign for my father who was deported with his family in 1940 from Basarabia (Moldova) to Siberia. I sign for my grandfather Ilie Vasiliev, killed in Siberian Gulag (Ivdellag).”
Ray Marchetta wrote: “KOLIMAR, Soviet Georgia famine 1932, Siberia, purges that killed 20 million, V Cheka and much more! Are you kidding me with this statue of Stalin?”
Sadly, Mr. Marchetta, this is no joke. It’s time for the folks at the National D-Day Memorial Foundation to admit making a profound mistake. It’s time for them to remove the bust of Stalin, a cold-blooded tyrant who was second in all history only to China’s Mao Zedong as the dictator with the most blood on his hands.