On Friday, June 8, 2018 The Polish American Congress (PAC) participated in the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s (VOC) 11th Annual Roll Call of Nations Wreath Laying Ceremony. Its purpose was to commemorate the over 100 million victims of Communism since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. This event was held at the Victims of Communism Memorial at the intersection of New Jersey and Massachusetts Avenues in Washington D.C. Approximately 300 participants assembled at the statue of Liberty holding high the torch of freedom, which was inspired by the hastily improvised one erected by Chinese pro-democracy activists in Beijing’sTiananmen Square in July 1989.
The event started with the invocation by The Very Rev. Charles H. Nalls (Canon Law Institute). Following the invocation, Mr. Marion Smith, the Executive Director of the VOC delivered his welcome remarks, and introduced the next speaker Dr. Lee Edwards. Dr. Edwards, Chairman of the VOC, shared his reflections on mass killings under Communist regimes. He expressed his dismay that today’s educational system has failed to make young adults aware of the murderous conduct of Communist regimes. He mentioned that according to recent research, ⅓ of all Americans are not aware of the total number of people who were killed by tyrannical Communist regimes since the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917. Dr. Edwards also pointed out that, according to a recent public opinion survey, 7% of millennials would prefer to live under socialism. Every year the VOC presents the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom to an individual who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to democracy, freedom, and opposition to Communism. This year the medal was awarded In Memoriam to Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, a Cuban democracy activist, civic leader, and dissident murdered by Havana’s Communist regime. He is a recipient of the European Parliament’s 2002 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and he was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Paya Sardinas refused to join the Young Communist League after the revolution in Cuba. He spent three years in a labor camp for his unwillingness to transport political prisoners during his military service. In 2012, Paya and his associate were killed in a car crash orchestrated by agents of the Castro regime. The Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom was accepted by his daughter Rosa Maria Paya, a founder of Cuban Decide, and his wife Ofelia Acevedo.
At the end of the ceremony, all participating organizations, including the Polish American Congress, laid wreaths at the Victims of Communism Monument, a bronze sculpture by Thomas Marsh, inspired by the plaster sculpture built by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square. In June 1989, the sculpture was destroyed by Chinese Communist tanks which brutally crushed the pro-democracy demonstration.
PAC National Office Administrator Klara Wiśniewska, and Mr. Nathan Hanshew, who is working as an intern this summer in the PAC’s national office.
Readers recall that in September 2015 at the PAC Council of National Directors’ (CND) meeting, a resolution was approved calling on all PAC members to contribute to the VOC as individuals.
Recently, the VOC Foundation decided to add a Polish Studies Office to document the murderous tyranny perpetrated by communists on Poland and the Poles. Funding for this new service came from the POLISH NATIONAL FOUNDATION.