Wreaths bearing the names of every former Soviet satellite and Communist nation surrounded the podium where the names of individuals who lost their lives to oppressive Communist regimes were read. The victims’ family members sat stoically before the podium.
As mid-morning traffic buzzed around the crowded corner of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues in Washington, D.C., many people strayed from their daily commute to watch the activities. The Victims of Communism Memorial attracted a large, diverse group of onlookers last Thursday. They saw a rare, chilling reminder of Communism’s past transgressions.
Last November, marked the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
To commemorate the fall, a few college student groups presented anti-Communist exhibits. Miami University’s Intercollegiate Studies Institute built and knocked down a mock Berlin wall built out of styro-foam, while George Washington University’s Students for Liberty erected a massive mock Soviet Gulag in front of the Woman’s Center.
The Victims of Communism Memorial differed significantly from those events; it had no such theatrics.
“First of all we want to make sure that we do not forget the 100 million deaths to Communism during the 20th Century,” said event organizer Lee Edwards, the driving force behind The Victims of Communism Memorial. “We conducted a poll recently asking students how many people were killed by communism and the average answer was 1 million. Part of this is our own fault for not sufficiently educating our youth on this topic.”
Edwards stressed the importance of informing Americans that Communism is not dead. “Communist regimes still exist in China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam,” Edwards said.
Grieving family members placed flowers on a large floral display. Men in uniform were present, veterans who personally witnessed Communist atrocities.
“I was deported to Siberia when I was fourteen and 1.7 million other Polish people shared the same fate,” said former Polish Soldier Romuald E. Lipinski. “The majority of the 1.7 million perished in Siberian mines and labor camps. People were dying like flys.”
Lithuanian Ambassador Audrius Bruzga delivered a somber speech about Communist aggression that resembled a eulogy. Bruzga stated his purpose saying, “To first and foremost remember those who were slain by totalitarian regimes in many countries including my country of Lithuania. For over 50 years we were a captive nation that endured Soviet oppression that consisted of mass deportation and labor camps. Now as a free nation we have a duty to honor those who lost their lives to Communism and to send a message that communism must be condemned.”