- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The groundbreaking ceremony for a memorial honoring the millions of people killed by communist regimes was held near the U.S. Capitol yesterday, an occasion that officials said was long-awaited and long overdue.

About 50 people converged on the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey avenues in Northwest, where the 10-foot bronze statue is expected to be erected by next summer.

Elected officials and representatives for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, founded in 1994, took shovels in hand to officially begin the project, a joint effort by dozens of organizations and individuals.

“This is a historic day,” said Lee Edwards, chairman of the nonprofit foundation, which spearheaded the project. “The memorial will serve to remind all of us that never again must nations and peoples permit so evil a tyranny to terrorize the world.”

Paula J. Dobriansky, undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, said communism “corroded the human experience in the 20th century.”

Mrs. Dobriansky’s father, the late Lev Dobriansky, a former ambassador to Bermuda, was instrumental in the push for the memorial.

She said the groundbreaking essentially signifies the end of the Cold War.

“The memorial built here will stand, after we no longer do,” she said. “It will educate future generations about the misery caused by communism, the massive resistance efforts and the fortitude of those who were victimized by it and ultimately overcame it.”

The foundation announced in July that it met its fundraising goal for the projected $900,000 memorial, which was authorized under a bill passed with bipartisan congressional support and signed into law by President Clinton in 1993.

“Today, we proclaim that communism is indeed dead, but we will never forget those who communism murdered during its brief life on this planet,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, who sponsored the legislation that authorized the memorial.

The memorial is a replica of the “Goddess of Democracy” statue, which was modeled after the Statue of Liberty. The Democracy statue was created by student activists in China, then destroyed by the communist government’s tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

“It’s fitting that the memorial has been modeled after the [‘Goddess of Democracy’ statue], because it represents the one country of the world that still languishes under communism — China,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. “This memorial will not be complete until the people of China are free from the tyranny of communism just like everyone else.”

An inscription on the front pedestal of the memorial will read: “To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty.”

On the back pedestal, it will read: “To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples.”

The project was initially conceived as a $100 million bricks-and-mortar structure, similar to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

But various issues, including fundraising and location problems, forced organizers in 2003 to scale back the project to a memorial near the Capitol.

Officials originally hoped to build the statue on a 6,900-square-foot tract behind the Supreme Court in Northeast before advisory neighborhood commissioners disapproved in February 2005.

The National Park Service approved the permit for the current site earlier this summer.

The dedication of the memorial is scheduled for June to coincide with the 20th anniversary of President Reagan’s famed “tear down this wall” speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

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