recognizing Victims of Soviet Communist and Nazi regimes
Washington, DC – Legislation designating August 23 as a “Black Ribbon Day” commemorating the victims of both Soviet communist and Nazi terror passed yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is a culmination of an ongoing two-year effort by the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) seeking passage of this legislation.
Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois, the co-chairman of the House Baltic Caucus, sponsored the legislation and effectively shepherded its passage in the House. The legislation, part of a National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4435), will now be taken up by the Senate. A conference committee of both houses will work out differences.
On the eve of the bill’s passage, JBANC contacted all House member offices individually to muster needed additional support for the resolution’s passage. JBANC stressed the importance of passing the legislation this year since it marks the 75th year since the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939. The pact divided Europe between Nazi Germany and the USSR and ushered in WWII. Ultimately this led to the 50 year Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries. This year will also mark 25 years since the “Baltic Way” was organized in 1989. This human chain united some two million Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians in an iconic demonstration of their resolve for freedom and independence.
JBANC’s appeal to Congress also highlighted the ongoing violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and Putin’s concurrent aggression, a haunting reminder of Hitler’s and Stalin’s maneuvers leading to the outbreak of the Second World War.
Over the past several years the European Parliament, Council of Europe, Canada’s Parliament, as well a number of countries in Europe have passed similar Black Ribbon Day resolutions to achieve a historical “reconciliation based on truth and remembrance.” In passing this legislation, the United States Congress unambiguously asserts that the victims of the most destructive regimes in history will not be forgotten and will be remembered by future generations as well.
Rep. Shimkus introduced the Black Ribbon Day resolution in July 2013, and about 50 co-sponsors signed on. The language of that bill, with some modifications, was adopted in the military authorization bill. An earlier version of the Black Ribbon Day resolution was introduced in the previous Session of Congress in 2012, with significant input from JBANC. JBANC and other Baltic-Americans organizations and individuals actively joined in supporting this legislation.
JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association in the U.S., and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.
Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc.
Estonian American National Council, Inc.
American Latvian Association, Inc.
Lithuanian American Council, Inc.
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