The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation named Marion Smith its new executive director on Wednesday.
The organization made the announcement on the 68th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s "Iron Curtain speech" condemning the Soviet Union’s grip on Eastern Europe during the Cold War.
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"On this day in 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his Iron Curtain speech —a timeless warning about the dangers posed by totalitarian ideologies," Smith said. "Millions of Americans risked their lives and livelihood in defense of our freedoms against a Communist order."
"I’m privileged to lead a bipartisan effort to commemorate the painful legacy of Communism and its millions of victims around the world," he said. "I consider it a sacred responsibility to keep alive the memory of 100 million people who were killed by Communist regimes since 1917."
"Unfortunately, recent events in Ukraine—the reprise of Soviet-style rhetoric, and a rise of pro-Communist sentiments among segments of the population—have highlighted the difficulty of overcoming the legacy of Soviet Communism," Smith added. "The work of our Foundation is needed more than ever."
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s mission is to educate the public and honor the victims of communism, which led to approximately 100 million deaths in the last century.
Smith will work to redouble the group’s efforts to "highlight the tens of millions who perished under Communist rule."
Smith formerly was a visiting fellow to the Heritage Foundation, and president of the Common Sense Society in Budapest, which promotes civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and leadership virtues among young professionals around the world.
"Marion possesses an expert knowledge of U.S. diplomatic and military history," said Dr. Lee Edwards, chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. "He has worked tirelessly to see that average citizens and foreign audiences understand the indispensable role that America has played in world politics."