- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

The battle against Islamic terrorist organizations may be the planet’s most pressing problem, but the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation remains steadfast in its determination to keep the spotlight on another form of pernicious totalitarianism, as well.

At the foundation’s sixth annual Truman-Reagan Freedom Awards Reception on Wednesday night at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, Lee Edwards, the group’s chairman, reminded guests that the evils of communism have hardly faded from the world scene.

“You’ve still got North Korea. You’ve still got Fidel hanging on down there [in Cuba], and the big one — China,” Mr. Edwards told about 100 supporters before moving on to the good news: that a site near the Capitol has been approved to commemorate the 100 million victims of communism in the 20th century.

The foundation, he reported, “is stronger than ever” now that it has “reversed priorities” and scaled back its original plan to get funding for a museum, as well.

That goal has been shelved, at least for now, in favor of a $500,000 memorial and a “global virtual museum” that will provide an Internet link with like-minded museums in such places as Prague, Berlin and Budapest. So far the group has raised $300,000 for a 10-foot replica statue of the Goddess of Democracy — similar to the one erected by protesters in China’s Tianamen Square in 1989 — to be located at Constitution and Maryland avenues NE.

Mr. Edwards hopes it will be dedicated by spring 2006.

Czech Ambassador Martin Palous, the affable host and a leader in the youth movement during his country’s Velvet Revolution, said he was deeply grateful for the foundation’s energetic efforts to prevent communism from being forgotten 15 years after his own country escaped its scourge.

Ramon Couto, a Cuban dissident who traveled from Miami to attend, was pained to think how communism had devastated his homeland.

In halting English, he told of being imprisoned for 11 years by the Castro regime, concluding, “I can’t explain what happened to Cuba. The best thing the human being has is liberty, and in Cuba, you can do nothing.”

Later in the evening, the Freedom Awards were presented to Lockheed Martin Corp. (“a tip of the hat to the military-industrial complex,” Mr. Edwards said); retired Army Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub, who, among other feats, fought the Nazis, led troops in Korea, and aided the Contras in Nicaragua; and Rep. John M. Shimkus of Illinois, co-chair of the House Baltic Caucus and sponsor of the legislation supporting the memorial’s construction.

Christina Ianzito

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