June 30, 2008

June 30, 2008 | News Releases on Political Thought

Heritage Scholar Edwards Honored for Championing Victims of Communism

WASHINGTON, JUNE 30, 2008-For years, he worked tirelessly to tell the stories of the courage shown -- and horrors endured -- by the tens of millions who lived and died under tyrannical regimes. He honored those who resisted, those who were silenced and those whose names never would be known to the wider world.

This month, however, Heritage Foundation scholar Lee Edwards is the one being saluted. And those expressing appreciation include the people of former communist nations.

In recognition of his decade-long efforts to create the Victims of Communism Memorial in the nation's capital, Edwards will receive the prestigious Lithuanian Millennium Star from Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas in a July 1 ceremony in Washington.

Then, on July 22, Edwards will receive the Walter Judd Freedom Award from the Fund for American Studies in appreciation of his "lifetime dedication to advancing the cause of freedom around the world."  Previous recipients include National Review founder and author William F. Buckley Jr., former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill.

The two awards are the latest in a series of accolades for Edwards, the distinguished fellow in conservative thought at The Heritage Foundation, as the driving force in making the Victims of Communism Memorial a reality.

In February, he received both the John M. Ashbrook Award and the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Earlier this spring, Estonian President Toomas Ilves presented Edwards with the Cross of Terra Mariana.

The Victims of Communism Memorial, modeled after the statue created by Chinese students in 1989 before the Tiananmen Square massacre, stands at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey avenues in Northwest Washington.

The memorial now represents the beginning of a larger mission, Edwards said at a gathering June 12 to mark the first anniversary of the dedication.

"You and I know there has been no greater threat to freedom in our lifetime than communism. But many people do not," Edwards told the crowd. "And so [we have] undertaken to educate this generation and future generations about the history, philosophy and legacy of communism. We cannot, we must not, we will not fail in our mission."

Edwards, who holds a doctorate in world politics from Catholic University, conceived the idea of the memorial and worked to secure the necessary permits and financial and political support. He serves as chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

President Bush, speaking at the dedication on June 12, 2007, praised the perseverance of Edwards and others inspired by his passion to memorialize the more than 100 million victims of communism worldwide.

"They faced setbacks and challenges along the way, yet they never gave up," Bush said, "because in their hearts, they heard the voices of the fallen crying out: 'Remember us.' "

Other speakers included Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., a key supporter of the memorial as a Hungarian immigrant who lived under communist rule before coming to the United States. 

Estonia and Lithuania, both Baltic states, gained independence in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nations now rank No. 12 and No. 26, respectively, among the world's freest economies, according to the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom published by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.

Edwards will receive the medal from Lithuania at 6:30 p.m. July 1 at Washington's Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW.

The mission of the Fund for American Studies, founded in 1967, is to instill in young leaders the values of freedom, democracy and free-market economies. Its event saluting Edwards will take place at noon July 22 at the Four Seasons Hotel, 2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Georgetown.

A prolific writer and historian of the conservative movement, Edwards is the author of 15 books, including biographies of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, a history of The Heritage Foundation and the recent "Reading the Right Books: A Guide for the Intelligent Conservative."

His essays and commentaries appear in National Review and Human Events as well as such major newspapers as the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times andBoston Globe.

(For a complete biography of Edwards, go to heritage.org and click on Experts. For selected writings, click on First Principles and then American Political Thought. )

About the Author

Related Issues: Political Thought