Baltic-Americans Help to Break Ground During Victims of Communism Memorial Ceremony

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.

JBANC Board members Erik Puskar, Ramunas Kondratas, and Marju Rink-Abel help to begin to prepare the site for construction. Mati Kõiva (behind, in sunglasses) waits his turn to dig.

Janis Gramatins, Raits Eglitis, and Peteris Blumbergs.

Ramunas Kondratas, Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Erik Puskar.

Captions (Photos by Inga Lukaviciute)

Octobr 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/ White House News

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.

I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.

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