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On the morning of Thursday, June 10, representatives of embassies, ethnic organizations and groups, the Congress, and individuals gathered at the Victims of Communism Memorial at the intersection of New Jersey Ave. and Massachusetts Ave., NW, in Washington, DC, to commemorate the more than 100 million victims of communism. The Memorial was dedicated on June 12, 2007, by President George W. Bush, and is visited frequently by officials, diplomats, and individuals who wish to honor these victims.

Karl Altau, a board member of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (and also Managing Director, Joint Baltic American National Committee – JBANC), acted as master of ceremonies for the event. Speakers included Dr. Lee Edwards, Chairman, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, Göran Lindblad, member of Swedish Parliament, Dr. Yang Jianli, Tianamen Square activist and Harvard University Fellow (who sent his remarks) and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI).  Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) was invited but had a last minute conflict.
Lee  Edwards  highlighted the horror and brutality of communism through a review of major 20th century historical events.  Göran Lindblad reminded the audience that communism is not dead, its victims are still suffering in countries such as China, Vietnam and Cuba.  Rep. McCotter focused on China, disputing those who say that despite China’s current economic model, it is still a communist country, as evidenced by its actions.  Several speakers referred to the statute of Stalin that had just been erected at the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA, criticizing the move and calling for its removal.
The commemoration concluded with 31 embassies, national organizations, and a few individuals, - the largest number to date - each presenting wreaths at the memorial. The majority of the embassies represented countries that had been part of the Soviet empire: Republic of Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.  Many of their respective U.S. organizations, such as the Estonian American National Council, were also present. Also represented were the Embassy of Sweden, the Philippines, and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.  In addition, countries where communism or totalitarianism is still in control - Belarus, Cuba, China, North Korea, Vietnam – were represented by U.S. organizations.  Wreaths were placed also by individuals and other organizations and foundations.  Kyllike Sillaste-Elling, Deputy Chief of Mission, represented the Embassy of Estonia, and Marju Rink-Abel, president, represented the Estonian American National Council, Inc.
Marju Rink-Abel

 

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