The “Victims of Communism Memorial,” located in Washington, D.C., has a simple dedication engraved on the front pedestal: “To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty.”
The engraving on the back pedestal is poignant: “To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples.” My purpose in writing this is to propose the establishment of a “Victims of Communism Memorial Day” in the State of Mississippi — and why we should do so.
This year marks the 106th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, where the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia and brought Soviet communism to the world stage. Marxist-Leninist ideology crushes independent thought and has caused mass persecution. Indeed, the philosophy of Karl Marx, wherever implemented, has proven incompatible with the ideals of liberty, individualism and prosperity.
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, and the Color Revolutions swept across Eastern Europe, many no longer saw the need for vigilance against Communist oppression — Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” had arrived.
These historic events, however, did not mark the end of world communism or autocracy. Today, one-fifth of humanity still lives under communist tyranny — 106 years after Red October. There is no denying that communism is on the march: North Korea threatens nuclear war and still enslaves 25 million people in a sprawling, 21st century Gulag; Cuba continues to jail dissidents who dare to dream of democracy; Vietnam arrests citizens for simply posting messages on social media critical of the Party; and China commits genocide in mass “re-education” camps, sterilizes minority women, uses forced and child labor, and harvests organs of political prisoners — all while it crushes liberty in Hong Kong, threatens to invade democratic Taiwan, and spies on American citizens.
The legacy of communism is also being played out with the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moscow’s attempt to subjugate Kyiv harkens back to the "Holodomor" — a planned genocide of the Ukrainian people by order of Joseph Stalin. The legacy is also on full display when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lay wreaths at the Victims of Communism Memorial — much to the ire of Russia.
Since 2018, seven states have passed resolutions marking Nov. 7 as “Victims of Communism Memorial Day.” It is poignant that Nov. 7 become “Victims of Communism Memorial Day” in Mississippi, as it is also the day that we Americans participate in the sacred democratic process of voting on Election Day.
This date also happens to be when the Great October Socialist Revolution occurred according to the Julian calendar — Oct. 25, 1917, prior to Soviet adoption of the Gregorian system in February 1918 — thus changing the month and day. I ask readers to contact your representatives in Jackson and ask them to declare Nov. 7 as “Victims of Communism Memorial Day” in Mississippi.
— Dr. Matthew Becker earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from Ole Miss and masters in International Affairs from Florida State. He has written op-eds on the topic of U.S. foreign policy regarding China, Russia and Ukraine. Dr. Becker was a Boren Fellow in Bosnia-Herzegovina and has visited 10 post-communist countries. For more information and educational resources on communism, please check out the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; Dr. Becker has no affiliation with the Foundation. The views expressed herein are his own. He may be reached at: MatthewBeckerPHD@gmail.com.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: May I propose a Mississippi 'Victims of Communism Memorial Day'