The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VoC) held its tenth annual Roll Call of Nations on June 9th. The event each year commemorates the more than 100 million victims of communism worldwide and those still living under totalitarian regimes. Over twenty embassies and other government agencies and thirty nongovernmental organizations took part this year, setting a record for attendance. Former Lithuanian head of state Dr. Vytautas Landsbergis was the keynote speaker.
Dr. Mart Laar was honored with this year’s Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom. VoC has awarded the medal annually since 1999 to “individuals and institutions that have demonstrated a life-long commitment to freedom and democracy and opposition to communism and all other forms of tyranny,” as quoted from its website. The award was presented by VoC Chairman Lee Edwards.
Laar was the first Prime Minister following Estonia’s re-independence in 1992 and was elected again in 1999. His leadership in creating an accountable government, implementing free-market reform, and paving the way for Estonia’s membership in the EU, along with his extensive background in human rights and publicizing Estonia’s history of anti-Soviet resistance, earned him the recognition. Edwards also credited him with Estonia’s ‘Baltic Tiger’ economic reputation and leading the Singing Revolution. Estonian Deputy Chief of Mission Marki Tihhonova-Kreek accepted the award on Laar’s behalf.
The VoC Memorial Foundation was established in 1993 to educate the public on the crimes of communism and honor the victims of communism around the world. The memorial itself was dedicated by President George W. Bush in 2007. Its statue is a replica of the one erected by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square in 1989. VoC Executive Director Marion Smith noted that it is the only known memorial dedicated to all victims of communism around the world. He also noted that younger generations are “woefully ignorant” of twentieth century history and the dangers of communism that arose during that time. VoC is now working toward building a world-class International Museum on Communism in Washington dedicated to education and a historical archive of communism’s tyranny.
EANC supports the VoC and its mission several times each year. In addition to this event, we take part in the VoC’s observation of the of Black Ribbon Day each August and the commemoration of the March 1949 mass deportations from the Baltic nations. EANC also provided financial support to the building of the memorial and to the anticipated museum. We thank VoC for its enduring commitment to keeping the memory of communism’s crimes alive.