Former Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld is to receive the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
He will receive the honor during a wreath-laying ceremony on Capitol Hill on June 12.
Rumsfeld and Annette Lantos, Chairman of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, will headline a list of speakers and guests from Congress and Washington’s diplomatic corps at the ceremony at the Victims of Communism Memorial.
Rumsfeld's medal is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves in opposing communism and tyranny. Lantos accepted the medal in 2008 on behalf of her husband, the late Congressman Tom Lantos. Other previous medal recipients include Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, Elena Bonner, Pope John Paul II, William F. Buckley Jr., Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Sen. Jesse Helms, Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Minority House Whip Steny Hoyer.
Three speakers will underscore the trauma, both past and present, of the millions of people impacted by communism:
- Anhthu Lu, a Board Member of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, who escaped the brutal communist takeover of of her country as one of the “Vietnamese Boat People.” Lu will talk about her childhood experience and the tens of thousands who perished trying to escape by sea. Lu will also introduce a special exhibit at the Memorial site illustrating the ordeals of the “Boat People.”
- Reggie Littlejohn, Founder and President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, who was instrumental in making known to the world the recent plight of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. Littlejohn will speak about the ongoing struggles against oppression in China today.
- Joseph DioGuardi, a former New York Congressman, who is President and Founder of the Albanian American Civic League that represents the concerns of the 750,000 Albanian Americans. DioGuardi will speak about the suffering of Albanians during one of the world’s most wicked communist dictatorships.
The ceremony marks the fifth anniversary of the Victims of Communism Memorial. During the 2007 dedication event, Rep. Tom Lantos joined President George W. Bush and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher as dedication speakers before an international crowd of nearly one thousand.
Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, stated that the outpouring of support by Members of Congress and the diplomatic corps during past ceremonies has been “phenomenal.” More than two dozen nations and peoples have been represented during past annual events. The memorial honors the more than 100 million victims of communism.
Ambassadors and diplomats from an array of formerly communist nations, along with leaders of numerous American-based groups and representatives from the still-communist nations of Cuba, China, Vietnam, North Korea and captive Tibet, are expected to participate this year.
Following the ceremony, a preview of the upcoming virtual Gulag exhibit for the online Global Museum on Communism will be presented during a luncheon at the nearby Heritage Foundation. The press is invited to both events. The online museum was launched in June 2009.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is dedicated to educating this generation and future generations about the history, philosophy and legacy of communism.
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