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New Victims Memorial Moves Ahead

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation moved even closer to breaking ground on Capitol Hill last week, as the National Capital Planning Commission voted to approve the preliminary site and building plans at an open hearing Thursday at the NCPC’s downtown offices.

The memorial’s design must still receive final approval, and that is slated to take place in December. Pending that, construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2006 on a triangular strip of land at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey avenues Northwest.

“I am so excited for our people who have been working hard to make this a reality and for the victims of communism who can finally be properly remembered,” said foundation chairman Lee Edwards after the decision was made. “Now families will be able to come to D.C. and remember the victims’ sacrifice on behalf of Democracy. This is a major step.”

The memorial’s design received approval by the D.C. Commission of Fine Arts on Sept. 15. The foundation still must provide the NCPC with documentation demonstrating compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act to receive final approval.

The memorial will include a paved plaza and a 10-foot figural sculpture modeled on the “Goddess of Democracy” statue erected by pro-Democracy student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Thomas Marsh, a San Francisco-based sculptor who created a similar statue in San Francisco, will create the statue free of charge, while D.C.-based architectural firm Hartman-Cox will handle the memorial design.

With construction of the memorial all but assured, the foundation now must focus on fundraising. So far, the foundation has raised $400,000 of its $700,000 stated goal and with a recent challenge grant of $150,000, it has only that much farther to go. Last week’s approval will only help in the effort, Edwards said.

“Now I can say confidently that it is going to happen,” Edwards said. “Now I can say that we will be breaking ground in the spring and dedicating the memorial in the fall of 2006. I’m elated.”