Walesa Honored for Anti-Communist Activities

By ALEX STOROZYNSKI, Special to the Sun
The New York Sun, April 27, 2006 Thursday

The world took a collective sigh of relief in 1989 when the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Soviet Union collapsed. The Cold War fizzled and nuclear annihilation was avoided. Yet only now, nearly two decades later, are those who were killed by Communist regimes finally being remembered.

It was Poland's Solidarity trade union that sparked the peaceful revolution that brought down the Evil Empire. Last night, Solidarity's founder, Lech Walesa, a former president of Poland, was honored by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which is building a statue in Washington to honor the 100 million people who were killed by Communist leaders worldwide.

At a reception of about 100 people at the Metropolitan Club, Mr. Walesa said he thinks the number of victims is closer to 200 million. "These deaths are unparalleled in human history. No war, no plague has ever come close," he said.

The foundation estimates that during the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, 20 million people were murdered in purges, mass starvations, and the gulags of Siberia. The foundation's chairman, Lee Edwards, said that in China, Mao Zedong and other Communist leaders slaughtered 50 million people through the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Millions more were killed in Communist satellite countries around the world.

The monument will be a 10-foot-tall bronze replica of the "Goddess of Democracy." Modeled after the Statue of Liberty, the Goddess was erected by pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square in 1989, but destroyed by Chinese tanks that rolled over the demonstration.

When asked if he thought that it was ironic that a Tiananmen Square symbol is being used considering that China is still Communist, Mr. Walesa replied, "China has its own tempo."

Mr. Walesa told the New York Sun: "If China develops too fast; it will run right over everyone. It's better if China proceeds at its own pace. Better for us, and better for them."

The monument has been in the works since 1993, and Mr. Edwards said that the foundation has completed 22 of the 24 steps that are needed to get a federal monument approved. The organization is still trying to raise $50,000 of the $750,000 it needs to fund the project.

The ground breaking is expected this summer, and Mr. Edwards explained that the goal is to have the ribbon cutting on June 12, 2007. That would be the 20th anniversary of President Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, when he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

Mr. Walesa said that at that time, none of the world's leaders really believed that the Berlin Wall would come down. It was the unanticipated selection of a Polish pope that pushed the issue forward. He said that when Pope John Paul II visited Poland, "Even the secret police learned how to make the sign of the cross. Of course they didn't know the proper words, so they simply said, 'One, two, three, four, five.'"

As it turned out, Mr. Walesa said, "Polish Communism was like a radish, only red on the outside."


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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