Today marks the 75th anniversary of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which divided Europe and helped start the Second World War. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation wants to remember this infamous day by commemorating August 23 as "Black Ribbon Day" to remember those lost to totalitarian dictatorships.
The foundation, along with members of Congress, ambassadors, and human rights leaders laid a wreath in the Freedom Foyer of the U.S. Capitol. Congressman John Shimkus (R- Ill.) was in attendance and sponsored the bill (H.R. 4435), which passed the House. If the Senate passes a matching bill, the United States will join more than a dozen countries in making August 23 the official "Black Ribbon Day."
"In the future, we hope 'Black Ribbon Day' will become a better known day and that more people would use the [Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact] anniversary to remember all of the victims of communism and fascism in Europe," said Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
With approximately 20 percent of the world's population, or 1.5 billion people, still under totalitarian dictatorships, the VOC's mission "is to educate this generation and future generations about the ideology, history, and legacy of communism."
"We see that Communism is alive and well in five countries and in some places where we thought it was dwindling can see signs of it coming back," said Smith. "We have work to do and it is largely because of an ignorance to the reality of Communism."
There are plans to build a museum on the history of communism on the National Mall starting in 2017.