The Victims of Communism Memorial
6/16/2009 - The Victims of Communism (VOC) Memorial Foundation awards the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to Hungarian human rights activist Bishop Laszlo Tokes. Bishop Tokes, an ethnic Hungarian, played an important role in the Romanian Revolution of 1989 that toppled Romania's communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. [read more]
6/12/2008 - Victims of Communism Memorial 1st Anniversary... Former California Congressman Tom Lantos was awarded the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom (posthumously) during the ceremony. The ceremony marked the first anniversary of the dedication of the memorial. AHF is proud to support the foundation. AHF's October 2007 Congressional Reception in honor of its 100th anniversary began with a wreath laying at the memorial.
11/1/2007 - Congressional Reception for AHF Centennial... AHF celebrated it's 100th Anniversary, honored the heroes of 1956 on the 51st anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution, and unveiled its plans for a 1956 National Memorial in the Nation's Capital. AHF recognized Congressmen Dan Lipinski (D - IL), ThaddeusMcCotter (R- MI) and Dr. Lee Edwards (Chair of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation) for their support of AHF initiatives, human rights and democratic development in Central Europe. Each received a plaque and a copy of the book, "Daughter of the Revolution" by renowned poet and author, Prof. Peter Hargitai. The October 25 commemoration started with wreath laying at the Victims of Communism Memorial near the US Capitol. [read more].
6/12/2007 - The Victims of Communism Memorial was dedicated by President George W. Bush in a morning ceremony on Tuesday, June 12th. Washington's newest memorial honors the 100 million people who have been killed by communist totalitarian regimes worldwide. AHF is proud to have contributed to this noble effort and congratulates Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation chairman Lee Edwards on the realization of his dream.
"I proudly accept the Victims of Communism Memorial on behalf of the American people," said President Bush before the more than 500 people gathered at the new memorial near the Capitol. "We'll never know the names of all who perished, but at this sacred place, communism's unknown victims will be consecrated to history and remembered forever." [see President Bush's full remarks and watch the video]
The dedication ceremony was held on the 20th anniversary of former President Ronald Reagan’s 1987 speech in Berlin in which he called on then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall that separated the city and had divided a continent since the end of World War II. Bush noted that the wall would finally fall two years later, liberating the people of Central and Eastern Europe and changing the world.
Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation chairman Lee Edwards remarked that the memorial will "send a very clear message that one-fifth of the world's population still lives under communism and not by their choice." The foundation's next mission will be to create a Global Virtual Museum, and then a brick and mortar museum in the nation's capital region to ensure that the world will never forget the crimes and victims of communism.
The memorial, a 4.2-meter-tall bronze replica of the “Goddess of Democracy” statue built by Chinese students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, was the brainchild of historian Lee Edwards and former ambassador Lev Dobriansky, who spent more than a decade raising nearly $1 million to complete the project on a site near the U.S. Capitol.. The statue is based on America's Statue of Liberty. Its front pedestal reads, "To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty." The back pedestal reads, "To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples."
Keynote speaker Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif) noted that, "everyone who has tasted communism, from Albania to Estonia, knows that without the United States, this existential struggle would have been lost." Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif), an original sponsor of the legislation that authorized the memorial, was on hand at the dedication and highlighted America's vital role in arresting the 20th century's greatest threat to freedom.
Following the dedication, AHF leaders attended a reception with remarks by visiting foreign dignitaries and other ethnic leaders and then an afternoon Roundtable Discussion of the victims and crimes of communism, featuring presentations by former political prisoners in China, Vietnam, and Cuba as well as noted historians such as Richard Pipes, Paul Hollander, and Alan Kors.
The day of dedication concluded with a Gala Awards Dinner at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, DC. Hungarian-American representatives included AHF leaders, such as Chairman of the Board Akos Nagy, Executive Committee Chairman Bryan Dawson-Szilagyi, and Co-Presidents Frank Koszorus, Jr. and Gyula Balogh who, along with Fidesz Parliamentarian and AHF Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom recipeient Janos Horvath, Ibolya David of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) and Hungarian American Coalition leaders, witnessed Bishop Laszlo Tokes deliver a stirring convocation speech recalling the horrors of communism. Bishop Tokes, an ethnic Hungarian Lutheran Minister from Temesvar (now Timisoara), was the pivotal character in Rumania's struggle to overthrow the Ceaucescu regime in 1989. The Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom was presented to William F. Buckley Jr. and Senator Henry M. (Scoop) Jackson (posthumously). Senator Jackson's medal was accepted by his daughter Anna Marie Laurence and presented by Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn), and Mr. Buckley was presented with his award by former congressman and HUD secretary Jack Kemp. The evening ended with a compelling keynote address by Elena Bonner, widow of famous Soviet dissident and Nobel Laureate Andrei Sakharov.
To learn more about the Victims of Communism Memorial or arrange an interview with Chairman Lee Edwards, contact Stephen Manfredi at Shirley & Banister Public Affairs at 703-739-5920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AHF is proud to Support VOC. AHF issued this statement as part of the VOC Gala Brochure. The text reads:
"The American Hungarian Federation honors all Victims of Communism and those who have given the ultimate Sacrifice for Freedom.
Hungary's first experience with Communism followed the chaos at the end of World War I when a brutal but short-lived "dictatorship of the proletariat" seized power between March and August 1919. Communism would later be imposed on Hungary by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, but not before Hungarians rejected the Communist Party in the 1945 elections when the Smallholders won an absolute majority of the votes despite the presence of the Soviet army.
In 1956 the entire nation rose up and, defying impossible odds, revolted against communist and Soviet tyranny. Although harsh reprisals and suffering followed the crushing of the Revolution, the sacrifice of Hungarians in 1956 helped lay the groundwork for the eventual collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. There were other victims...
Hungarians living in successor states neighboring Hungary lived not only as an oppressed people, but also as a minority subjected to all forms of discrimination and forcible assimilation. Despite the great strides toward freedom and democracy, the region's spiritual, moral and economic decay in the wake of decades of Communism imposed by Moscow, is still evident and cannot be ignored. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation ensures that we not forget the suffering and the lessons of a terrible period in the history of mankind.
The American Hungarian Federation (AHF), founded in 1906 in Cleveland,
Ohio, is the oldest and largest Hungarian American national umbrella organization
in the United States.
AHF's work regarding the tragic events nearly 50 years ago, dates back to the early days of the revolution and thereafter assisting tens of thousands of refugees. In 1956 the American Hungarian Federation activated the second Hungarian Relief program for the refugees of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, providing $512,560.00. With the support of the American Hungarian Federation, over 65,000 refugees arrived in the USA. Get involved and help us continue our tradition of helping our community!
up for the AHF mailing list.
- AHF President Emeritus, Entrepreneur, Freedom Activist,
and 1959 US "Citizen of the Year," George K. Haydu, passed away
after long illness. The death of this great humanitarian and
leader is a major loss for the Hungarian-American community and to all
his many friends. Despite many death threats and being shot in the leg
during "Loyalty Day" parade in New York City, George was undeterred
in his efforts to bring freedom to Hungary and comfort to refugees.
5/19/2005 - Gergely "Bajusz" Pongratz, a leader and hero of Hungary's anti-communist revolution of 1956, has died at age 73.
Pongratz suffered a heart attack on Wednesday in the southern
Hungarian town of Kiskunmajsa where he lived, said Dezso Abraham, secretary
general of the World Council of Hungarian 56ers revolutionary veterans
group. During the revolution, Pongratz was commander of one of the key
resistance groups fighting the Soviet army. [read
12/10/2004 - JENO SZEREDAS, 90, Hungarian Freedom Fighter Federation Founder, AHF Member, and Noted Artist Dies...
Jeno Andras Szeredas, Hungarian political activist and Senator, 1956 Freedom Fighter, Founder of the Freedom Fighters Federation in the United States, poet and artist of rare talent died quietly in his sleep at his daughter's home in Connecticut on November 30. He had just celebrated his 90th birthday.
Born in Iglo, Hungary (now Slovakia) in 1914, Mr. Szeredas was both witness to and active participant in the turmoil sweeping over Europe for the balance of the 20th century. [more]
Memorials Dedicated to 1956
"October 23, 1956, is a day that will live forever
in the annals of free men and nations. It was a day of courage, conscience
and triumph. No other day since history began has shown more clearly the
eternal unquenchability of man's desire to be free, whatever the odds
against success, whatever the sacrifice required."-
President John F. Kennedy,
Albert Camus' Stirring Letter to the World:
"The Blood of the Hungarians"
I am not one of those who wish to see the people of Hungary take up arms again in a rising certain to be crushed, under the eyes of the nations of the world, who would spare them neither applause nor pious tears, but who would go back at one to their slippers by the fireside like a football crowd on a Sunday evening after a cup final.
There are already too many dead on the field, and we cannot be generous with any but our own blood. The blood of Hungary has re-emerged too precious to Europe and to freedom for us not to be jealous of it to the last drop.
But I am not one of those who think that there can be a compromise, even one made with resignation, even provisional, with a regime of terror which has as much right to call itself socialist as the executioners of the Inquisition had to call themselves Christians.
And on this anniversary of liberty, I hope with all my heart that the silent resistance of the people of Hungary will endure, will grow stronger, and, reinforced by all the voices which we can raise on their behalf, will induce unanimous international opinion to boycott their oppressors.
And if world opinion is too feeble or egoistical to do justice to a martyred people, and if our voices also are too weak, I hope that Hungary’s resistance will endure until the counter-revolutionary State collapses everywhere in the East under the weight of its lies and contradictions.
Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people for twenty years. But for this lesson to get through and convince those in the West who shut their eyes and ears, it was necessary, and it can be no comfort to us, for the people of Hungary to shed so much blood which is already drying in our memories.
In Europe’s isolation today, we have only one way of being true to Hungary, and that is never to betray, among ourselves and everywhere, what the Hungarian heroes died for, never to condone, among ourselves and everywhere, even indirectly, those who killed them.
It would indeed be difficult for us to be worthy of such sacrifices. But we can try to be so, in uniting Europe at last, in forgetting our quarrels, in correcting our own errors, in increasing our creativeness, and our solidarity. We have faith that there is on the march in the world, parallel with the forces of oppression and death which are darkening our history, a force of conviction and life, an immense movement of emancipation which is culture and which is born of freedom to create and of freedom to work.
Those Hungarian workers and intellectuals, beside whom we stand today with such impotent sorrow, understood this and have made us the better understand it. That is why, if their distress is ours, their hope is ours also. In spite of their misery, their chains, their exile, they have left us a glorious heritage which we must deserve: freedom, which they did not win, but which in one single day they gave back to us. (October 23, 1957)
AHF dedicates this work
- Read this in German, Hungarian, French, and Spanish on this AHF member site, the [American Hungarian Museum]
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