- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2007

Two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, conservative historian Lee Edwards began worrying that the world might forget the millions who suffered and died under communist regimes.

During a conversation at brunch with his wife, Anne, in 1990, he pondered how he could prevent those victims from becoming lost in history.

When his wife suggested building a memorial in Washington, he immediately scribbled the idea down on a napkin. Two days later, Mr. Edwards began to pursue a goal that would take 17 years, a bipartisan congressional bill and nearly $1 million to accomplish.

Today, the 20th anniversary of President Reagan’s bold demand for the destruction of the Berlin Wall, Mr. Edwards, 74, will realize that dream when he unveils the Victims of Communism memorial.


“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment, knowing that those 100 million victims are going to finally be memorialized and recognized,” he said.

President Bush will help dedicate the memorial, which is the only monument of its kind in the world, said Mr. Edwards, chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, and Tom Lantos, California Democrat, also will speak at the ceremony.

“It’s a historic day, a day of dedication, a day of remembrance and also a day of resolution that we will not ever again permit so terrible an evil to terrorize the world,” Mr. Edwards said.

The memorial, called the “Goddess of Democracy,” is a bronze replica of the figure erected by Chinese students during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and subsequently destroyed by Chinese tanks. The democracy-minded students had modeled it after the Statue of Liberty.

It stands at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey avenues in Northwest.

Mr. Edwards is considered a leading historian of the American conservative movement. Author of more than 15 books, including two biographies of Mr. Reagan, he is a distinguished fellow in conservative thought at the Heritage Foundation.

It is no coincidence that the dedication will take place on the 20th anniversary of Mr. Reagan’s visit to the Berlin Wall, where he challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s commitment to openness by declaring, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

Mr. Edwards called that speech “the beginning of the end” of the Cold War.

While communism was collapsing around the globe, however, he was engaged in a long and difficult 24-step process to add to the monuments and memorials in the nation’s capital.

He immediately knew that the District was the right place for it, he said.

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