One presidential proclamation in particular infuriates the communists because it tells the truth about communism: Moscow was the center of an empire responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million victims since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
Every U. S. president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Joe Biden has proclaimed the third week of July to be National Captive Nations Week. In the first proclamation, President Eisenhower condemned “the imperialistic and aggressive policies of Soviet communism” and urged the American people to recommit their support of the “just aspirations” of the captive nations for freedom and national independence.
Eisenhower did not mince words, declaring that communism had created “a vast empire” that posed “a dire threat” to America’s security and all the free peoples of the world. The word “empire” anticipated President Ronald Reagan’s reference to the Soviets’ “evil empire” in a 1983 address.
President Ronald Reagan acknowledges the applause after delivering what is known as the “Tear Down This Wall” speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, June 12, 1987. (AP Photo/Ira Schwartz, File)
One president who understood full well the importance of Captive Nations Week was Reagan, who said in 1988: “On behalf of Vice President Bush and myself, this pledge we make to… all the peoples of the captive nations around the world: America will never forget your plight, and we will never cease to speak the truth [about communism].”
A little more than one year later, the Berlin Wall fell and the 100 million captive peoples behind the Iron Curtain were at last free after over four decades of communist captivity.
When we conceived the idea of a Victims of Communism Memorial, the first person we consulted was Professor Dobriansky, who became the first chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He is, we believe, the only American to play a major role in the construction of two Washington monuments – the statue of the 19th-century Ukrainian poet and national hero, Taras Shevchenko, and the Victims of Communism Memorial, which features a bronze replica of the Goddess of Democracy erected by freedom-seeking Chinese students in June 1989 in Tiananmen Square.
Lev Dobriansky lived a full life centered on one powerful idea: “Let us constantly strive to bring about the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples.”