This morning, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation held a wreath-laying ceremony on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C. The event commemorated not only the second anniversary of the Victims of Communism Memorial, which has its own history, but also the 20-year anniversaries of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Fittingly, the memorial contains a bronze replica of the Goddess of Liberty erected by the Chinese students at Tiananmen Square. Thomas Marsh, the sculptor, was in attendance, in addition to former U.S. ambassador to Estonia Aldona Was. Lee Edwards, chairman of the foundation and perhaps the biggest reason the memorial exists, told me how important the memorial has become in the past two years. “This memorial is a regular stopping place for world leaders who come to Washington,” he said. “Presidents, prime ministers, premiers.”
Representatives from 16 advocacy groups and eleven former Communist nations from Europe and Asia laid wreaths or bouquets at the statue, though many embassies were notably missing, including Bulgaria’s. I spoke at length with a Bulgarian national named Victor Papp after the ceremony. A political prisoner at age 20, Victor said that after serving his time, he escaped the larger prison of Bulgaria in the early ’70s to immigrate to the United States. He became a U.S. citizen in 1977 and worked for Voice of America for nearly 30 years. Victor proudly says he’s only 38 years old, since he was “reborn” after coming to America.
“The Communists never left Bulgaria,” Victor told me. “They just changed their name to ‘socialists.’ There’s rampant crime, the economic situation is terrible.” He was very glad to see the Bulgarian Victims of Communism organization represented at the ceremony, but the absence of his home country’s embassy concerned him.
“There’s still work to be done,” Victor said.
— Michael Warren, a Collegiate Network intern at National Review, studies economics and history at Vanderbilt University.