By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
June 12, 2007 – Lessons of the Cold War are important, because the same hatred that led to millions of people's deaths during the 20th century is still at work today in the world, President Bush said today as the dedication of the new Victims of Communism memorial here. Bush lauded the new memorial in the U.S. capital as a lasting tribute to an estimated 100 million innocent men, women and children whose lives were cut short by imperial communism.
They include innocent Ukrainians starved to death during Josef Stalin's great famine, Russians killed in his purges, and Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians loaded onto cattle cars and deported to Soviet death camps, the president said. Others were Chinese killed during the Cultural Revolution, Cambodians slain in Pol Pot's killing fields, East Germans shot attempting to scale the Berlin Wall, Poles massacred in the Katyn Forest, and Ethiopians slaughtered during the Red Terror. Still others were Mosquito Indians murdered by Nicaragua's Sandinista dictatorship and Cubans who drowned in a desperate effort to escape tyranny.
"We'll never know the names of all who perished," Bush said today. "But at this sacred place, communism's unknown victims will be consecrated to history and remembered forever."
Bush said the new memorial helps ensure that future generations remember the crimes of the 20th century to ensure they're never repeated.
"In this hallowed place, we recall the great lessons of the Cold War," he said. One lesson is that "freedom is precious and cannot be taken for granted." Another lesson: "evil is real and must be confronted." A third lesson: "that given the chance, men commanded by harsh and hateful ideologies will commit unspeakable crimes and take the lives of millions."
These lessons are important to remember, Bush said, "because the evil and hatred that inspired the death of tens of millions of people in the 20th century is still at work in the world."
That hatred showed its face on Sept. 11, 2001, when more than 3,000 Americans died during terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa., he said.
"Like the communists, the terrorists and radicals who attacked our nation are followers of a murderous ideology that despises freedom, crushes all dissent, has expansionist ambitions, and pursues totalitarian aims," he said.
And the similarities go beyond hatred, Bush said. "Like the communists, our new enemies are dismissive of free peoples, claiming that those of us who live in liberty are weak and lack the resolve to defend our way of life," he said. "And like the communists, the followers of violent Islamic radicalism are doomed to fail."
Bush said it's important that people recognize these comparisons and heed the lessons imperial communism left behind.
"By remaining steadfast in freedom's cause, we will ensure that a future American president does not have to stand in a place like this and dedicate a memorial to the millions killed by the radicals and extremists of the 21st century," he said.
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