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Victims of Communism Commemorated in Washington, Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Given Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom


Nr 28-TT

On 12 June a memorial ceremony for the victims of communist regimes was held at the Victims of Communism Memorial near the Capitol in Washington, DC. Wreaths were placed beside the memorial to commemorate over 100 million people that have been killed as a result of the activities of communist regimes. The memorial was opened five years ago by President George W. Bush and then-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives Tom Lantos.

During the memorial ceremony, member of the board of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Aldona Wos presented the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The medal is awarded each year to individuals that have made a significant contribution to the opposition of communism and all other forms of tyranny. The medal has earlier been awarded to Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Elena Bonner, Pope John Paul II, William F. Buckley Jr., senators Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Jesse Helms, and Joseph Lieberman, former majority leader of the House of Representatives Steny Hoyer, and congressman Tom Lantos. Upon receiving the medal, Rumsfeld pointed out that communism has killed a record number of people in the world and the number of victims continues to rise.

The main speaker of the memorial ceremony was Annette Lantos, chairman of the Lantos Foundation and widow of Tom Lantos, who emphasised that it is essential that younger generations do not forget the crimes committed by communist regimes and the millions of people who have died as a result. She also reminded listeners that communism has not disappeared and as citizens of the free world we have a responsibility to speak for those who are suffering under repressive regimes today. In addition to Annette Lantos, speakers included Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Dr. Lee Edwards, congressman Andrew Harris, former congressman and president of the Albanian American Civic League Joseph Diogardi, founder and president of the organization Women’s Rights Without Borders and supporter of human rights in China Reggie Littlejohn, and member of the board of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and refugee from the Vietnamese communist regime Anhthu Lu.

Wreaths were also placed on the memorial by Estonian Ambassador to the United States Marina Kaljurand and Chairman of the Estonian American National Council Marju Rink-Abel. The event was also attended by many members of the US Congress, members of the diplomatic corps in Washington from countries that belong to the former communist bloc, and representatives of organisations for refugees from communist countries.




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