The National Capital Memorial Commission voted unanimously on July 29 to approve a site at the northeast corner of Maryland and Constitution Avenues NE for a memorial to the 100 million victims of communism. Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Chairman Lee Edwards made a compelling case for the Foundation's preferred location. He argued the site was fitting because it is within sight of the Statue of Freedom perched atop the U.S. Capitol Dome and because of its proximity to the headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Marc Wheat from the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, who was instrumental in collecting support from twenty-seven members of Congress for the memorial, also testified. The next step will be approval of the site at September meetings of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission.
On July 22, the House Baltic Caucus co-chairman John Shimkus introduced a resolution (H. Res. 752) supporting the effort to build the memorial. The resolution is currently co-sponsored by Congressmen Mark Souder and William Lipinski, who besides being a member of the Baltic Caucus is also co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Central Europe.
As Karl Altau, managing director of the Joint Baltic American National Committee and board member of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said in his address to the National Capital Memorial Commission, "I would like to emphasize the great support the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian American communities in the United States have for this project. It was my parent's generation that came, thankfully, to the U.S. as a result of the terrible crimes of Soviet communism. That generation is now quite old, and we do not have much time before they too are gone.
"Communism wreaked immense havoc not only in the Baltic countries, which were illegally and forcibly occupied by an extremely intolerant regime and political system, but also throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Our Baltic-American communities have long had many friends and allies among the communities of Central and Eastern Europeans here in the United States. We have stuck together for over 50 years to fight against the oppression and horror that communism wrought and to help set this record straight for future generations."