Washington, DC – The United States honored victims of Communism around the world at the dedication of a new memorial in Washington, D.C., attended by President Bush and international dignitaries.
Hungarian American Coalition President Maximilian Teleki, John and Edith Lauer, Les Megyeri, and representatives from the Cleveland Hungarian Heritage Society were among the 400 invited guests attending the dedication ceremony. The new memorial is a bronze statue representing the Goddess of Democracy; it is located at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues and G Street in Northwest Washington.
In his remarks, President Bush said that “the 20th century will be remembered as the deadliest century in human history. And the record of this brutal era is commemorated in memorials across this city. Yet, until now, our Nation’s Capital had no monument to the victims of imperial Communism, an ideology that took the lives of an estimated 100 million innocent men, women and children. So it’s fitting that we gather to remember those who perished at Communism’s hands, and dedicate this memorial that will enshrine their suffering and sacrifice in the conscience of the world.”
In his keynote speech, Congressman Tom Lantos, (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, stated: “It was my privilege to fight against Nazism and it was my privilege to fight against Communism … Everyone who has tasted Communism, from Albania to Estonia, knows that without the United States this existential struggle would have been lost.”
Special guests attending the ceremony included individuals who earlier had been imprisoned or otherwise persecuted by Communist regimes in Vietnam, Cuba, China, Romania and Russia. Bishop László Tőkés, the ethnic Hungarian minister whose resistance to persecution by Romania’s Ceausescu regime sparked that country’s anti-Communist revolution, delivered the invocation at the Gala Dinner following the ceremony. Ms. Ibolya Dávid, president of Hungarian Democratic Forum, and János Horváth, Member of the Hungarian Parliament, together with Ambassador Andras Simonyi represented Hungary at the ceremony and related events.
The memorial built with $950,000 in private funds, included donations from several countries and from ethnic communities in the United States and abroad. In the words of Dr. Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Memorial Foundation, “The Victims of Communism Memorial would not have been possible without the generous financial and political support of so many organizations and individuals.” He thanked the Hungarian American community and the Hungarian American Coalition for their organizational and financial support over the years.