June 12, 2007
Washington, DC – At the dedication today of a memorial to people who lost their lives fighting communist oppression worldwide, Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the lessons of the Cold War are and should remain a part of present-day American life.
“We are an ahistorical society,” Lantos observed in the keynote speech to dedicate the Victims of Communism memorial near the U.S. Capitol grounds. “That is why this monument is so significant to the upcoming generations. … The wave of the future is not godless communism, it is not distorted Islamic fascism, but it is free and open and democratic societies.”
The memorial project has been under way for more than a decade. Its most striking feature is a statue modeled on the “Goddess of Democracy” plaster figure that protesters erected in Beijing’s Tienanmen Square in 1989 during an uprising that galvanized world attention and was violently quashed by Chinese authorities.
Lantos, who survived the Holocaust, worked in the anti-Nazi underground and saw the dawn of Soviet rule over his native Hungary before coming to the United States as a university student, is the founding co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. He was one of the key figures in Congress who supported the memorial’s creation.
“Communism was not the only monstrous phenomenon determined to destroy free and open societies,” he noted. “It was my privilege to fight against Nazism and it was my privilege to fight against Communism. And it is now my privilege to fight against Islamist terrorism determined to take us back 13 centuries.”
Lantos added, “Everyone who has tasted communism, from Albania to Estonia, knows that without the United States, this existential struggle would have been lost.”