More than one dozen ambassadors from former Communist countries will lay wreaths at a June 9, 2011 program of remembrance at the statue that is the heart of Washington’s Victims of Communism Memorial Park.
Representative from ethic and religious groups who suffered at the hands of the Communists will also attend, said, Lee Edwards, the chairman of the Victims of Communism Foundation, the organization that raised money for the park and statue.
“We built and dedicated the memorial June 10, 2007,” he said. The date is significant because it was the same day the President Ronald W. Reagan stood at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and demanded that the Communists tear down the Berlin Wall.
President George W. Bush spoke at that ceremony and said it was appropriate that Washington have a memorial as a reminder to the conscience of the world of the more that 100 million people killed by the Communists, he said.
The statue that is the centerpiece of the park, which is less than a half-mile walk from Union Station on Massachusetts, is based on the Goddess of Democracy that Chinese students erected in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, said Edwards, who holds a PhD and is also a senior fellow of Conservative Thought at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation.
There was some discussion about replicating the Berlin Wall, but it proved impractical given the shape and size of the park, he said.
In the end, the board decided to honor the sacrifice of the students of Tiananmen Square who were brutally massacred by Peoples Liberation Army soldiers June 4, 1989 with a statue that recalled the “Goddess of Democracy” they erected before the crackdown, he said. “The more we thought about it, the more we said yes because it shows you what Communists will do to those people who challenge them.”
Edwards said, “Because it was based on our own Statue of Liberty, it was a symbol of man’s innate desire for Freedom.”
The sculptor of the statue, Thomas Marsh, said he donated all of his time creating the 9.5-foot bronze work and only charged for expenses he could not control, such as materials and transportation.
He is also very proud that his participating in the process made him part of the response from artists around the world to events of that June 4, he said.
Edwards said the idea for the memorial came from his wife at an after-church brunch. “I was already concerned that the people were forgetting Communism, and nobody was really exploring why it collapsed or what it had done.”
After he shared his concerns to his wife, she suggested a memorial to recognize the victims of the brutal ideology.
More information about this year’s wreath laying ceremony and the Victims of Communism Foundation is available at victimsofcommunism.org.