The anti-Communist Heroes Memorial Dedication Ceremony (Anglisht – English)
Prepared by Mustafa Xhepa
On Wednesday, June 12, embassies and international organizations gathered at the crossing of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenue in Washington, D.C. to participate in the Sixth Anniversary of the Dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial. The day, led by Dr. Lee Edwards, chairman of the Victims of Communism Foundation, began with a series of distinguished speakers. Dr. Lee Edwards then presented the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Dr. Yang Jianli, a Tiananmen Massacre Survivor and former political prisoner of China (2002-2007), founder and President of Initiatives for China/Citizen Power for China and Foundation for China in the 21st Century, the Interethnic/Interfaith Leadership Conferences, and online publication China E Weekly. The event culminated in the annual wreath laying ceremony, and ended with a panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation. Albanian-American Freedom House organization was among the wreath laying participants.
Speakers included both international parliamentarians and house members of the United States Congress. The foreign guests, the deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Lithuania, the chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee of the Latvian Parliament, and the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament, detailed the history of communism in the Baltic states. The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Latvian Parliament addressed the role of the Goddess of Democracy Statue with respect to the Baltic experience under communism. “When I look at this monument, I see it as a sign of hope because it was here in this country that the tens of thousands of Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians managed to escape the terrorism of communism and were able to rebuild reclaiming the independence of their countries… this Goddess of Democracy Statue is a symbol of hope not just for the rebirth of the free independent Baltic states, but I think it’s a sign to all people that live under communist oppression.”
The three United States house members, Honorable Jim Bridenstine, Dana Rohrabacher, and Ileana Ros- Lehtinen, then pledged their support on all congressional issues involving the eradication of communism and exposition of communist crimes. Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban refugee and the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress, voiced the experiences of those suffering ongoing human rights violations in communist Vietnam, China and Cuba. She asserted, “The cold war may be over for historians, but let us not forget that the fight against communism is not over.” She spoke on behalf of all three congressmen, proclaiming, “I pledge my utmost support as a member of congress to ensure that freedoms and liberties…can ultimately be spread everywhere. Let no corner be living under communism on this great Earth!”
A panel discussion followed the wreath laying ceremony. Panelists, Yang Jianli, the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom recipient, Bruce Klinger, Senior Research Fellow for Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow on Russian and Eurasian Studies and International Energy Policy at the Center for Foreign Policy Studies, and Jose Cardenas, associate of Vision Americas, each spoke on their respective studies on varying locations effected by communism. From Yang Jianli’s exposition of the Chinese neo-Communist economic system to Dr. Cohen’s research on Slavic gulags, the information shared by the panelists brought to the horrors of communism to light and stressed the importance of Lee Edwards’ opening cry that “we cannot forget the victims of communism.”
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