||September 27, 2006
Washington, DC (JBANC) --- Ground was broken in Washington, DC on September 27
to begin construction of the Victims of Communism memorial. Nearly 200 people
attended the ceremony, which featured speakers Paula Dobriansky, the
Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, and Congressman Dana
Rohrabacher, one of the sponsors of the authorizing legislation in the U.S.
Congress in 1993.
The memorial is expected to be dedicated in June 2007, on the anniversary of
President Ronald Reagan's challenge to the Soviets to tear down the Berlin Wall.
VOC Memorial Foundation chairman Lee Edwards underscored the efforts of a wide
array of supporters of the memorial, from individuals to large private
foundations to foreign governments, including Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.
The support of ethnic communities was also highlighted, led by the Latvian,
Estonian, and Lithuanian communities in the United States.
A reception followed in the U.S. Capitol, with remarks by Baltic Caucus co-chair
Rep. John Shimkus, along with Congressmen Thaddeus McCotter and Mario
Diaz-Balart. Ambassadors Jüri Luik of Estonia, and Petr Kolar of the Czech
Republic were among other participants who reflected upon the symbolic
importance of the memorial.
JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau welcomed and thanked the guests, which
included many members of the Baltic community, including EANC President Marju
Rink-Abel, JBANC chairman Peteris Blumbergs, Ramunas Kondratas of the Lithuanian
American Council, Mati Kõiva and Erik Puskar of the Estonian American National
Council, Janis Gramatins of the World Federation of Free Latvians, Raits Eglitis
of the American Latvian Association, Inga Lukaviciute of JBANC, Marija and
William Maher, Vello Ederma, and Mark Bablin and others.