Stop Memorializing a Monster

July 21st, 2010

By Trevor Dane

The Bust of Joseph Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial Museum Has to Go

On average, over 15 million tourists descend on Washington, DC each year to walk among the hundreds of inspiring and precisely sculpted monuments honoring many of America’s most historically famous political and cultural leaders.

Of course, Washington DC is by no means the only place in the country where monuments and statues preserve the legacy of outstanding individuals — far from it actually.  Go to any city and town in the country and chances are that you will see a monument commemorating a mayor or educator or business leader who profoundly impacted the community.  One of the highest recognitions a community, business or organization can bestow on anyone is to display a monument in their honor.

It is an accepted fact that memorializing an individual sends a signal that this person is special; this person represents the best of our community; this person helped positively shape who we are today.

This makes what is happening at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, so abominable and outrageous.  The D-Day Memorial, which exists in tribute to the valor, fidelity, and sacrifice of the Allied Forces on D-Day, 6 June 1944, has displayed a bronze bust of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin right alongside busts honoring British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. Presidents Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt. By displaying a bust of Stalin, the memorial is unequivocally stating that Stalin was an equal — including morally and philosophically — and should be respected and admired as such, to Churchill, Truman and Roosevelt.

Joseph Stalin, a murderous and sadistic dictator who was responsible for the deaths of over 40 million people, was in no way an equal to Churchill, Truman, and Roosevelt.  Stalin was diametrically opposed to the principles of democracy, freedom, self-determination, and liberty that the United States, Britain, France and the 10 other countries that the memorial honors fought for.  While the allies’ invasion of Normandy was about liberating Europe, Stalin’s drive from the east was about re-conquering it.

The former President of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, the organization that oversees the Memorial, William McIntosh, stated that the bust of Stalin is a “necessary addition” in order to put the events of D-Day in proper historical context.

A press release issued by the Foundation in August 2009 states that Stalin “played a role in D-Day rather as an ally who distracted German forces and played a part in the timing and unfolding of D-Day.”  Nowhere in the press release or anywhere else does it mention that of the 156,000 allied troops that participated in D-Day, not a single one was Soviet.

While the plaque next to the bust mentions some of Stalin’s atrocities, a July 20th editorial in the Bedford Bulletin very clearly states the unavoidable and obvious point — that the very existence and display of the bust supersedes anything that is written on the plaque.  The very existence and display of the bust supersedes any nuanced explanation that Foundation’s leaders can give that Stalin’s bust is needed to accurately depict the entire D-Day story.

The Foundation’s inference that “we are but we are not” honoring Stalin is not credible.  Does this mean that they “are but are not” honoring Churchill and Truman and Roosevelt either?  If the purpose of the bust display is to provide an accurate portrayal of the D-Day story, why isn’t there a bust of Hitler?

Giving Stalin the honor of a bust contradicts the purpose of the memorial.  Giving Stalin the honor of a bust is offensive to the millions of families of European descent that are now living in America that were directly affected by Stalin’s gulags, mass murders, famines, and deportations.  Giving Stalin the honor of a bust is offensive to the memory of the soldiers who did participate in the events of June 6, 1944.  Elevating Stalin as an equal among the allied leaders of the United States and Great Britain is not accurately portraying history, it is distorting it.

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Categories: History, News, Politics | Comments (9) | Home

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9 Responses to “Stop Memorializing a Monster”

  1. Brianna |

    I completely agree, this is a travesty.

  2. larry ennis |

    Alas my friends, we probably just don’t understand.
    Stalin was, despite Winston Churchill’s objections brought on as our ally. According to Bob Dylan, Mr. Roosevelt was persuaded that the Communist also had God on their side.
    Old Joe Stalin was a butcher and should be remembered as that only.

  3. Clarissa |

    This is completely disgusting. I am appalled beyond what words can express.

  4. Brianna |

    Clarissa, why do you simultaneously think big government is wonderful even as you quite honestly and sincerey profess abhorrence for the consequences of big government? That’s a serious question btw; I really, truly want to know.

  5. Tom Carter |

    I wholeheartedly agree, Trevor. The bust should be removed, and those who defend it should be requested to seek other employment or otherwise occupy themselves. What a no-brainer!

    Brianna, I don’t see any conflict between understanding what government can and should do in the modern era and understanding the nature of the Soviet regime under Stalin (which was at least marginally worse than under other Soviet leaders). It isn’t 1776 any more, and it isn’t necessarily true that “that government is best which governs least.” (Jefferson didn’t say it, by the way. It’s unclear who did.) Governing “least” is a vague term anyway. Governments of all kinds are big, and they’re going to stay that way. The challenge is to make them effective and responsible, and the U.S. government, even today, is among the most effective and responsible in the world. Libertarians can bay at the moon and quote the Federalist Papers until kingdom come, and it won’t make any difference.

  6. Clarissa |

    “Clarissa, why do you simultaneously think big government is wonderful”

    -Exactly when did I say that? Did you miss all my posts and comments insisting that the bailouts of 2008-9 are a huge mistake because they impose on the US a Soviet style economy, which has been one huge and irredeemable failure?

    All I’m saying is that Republicans are in no way against the big government, as they keep claiming. They created a “nanny state” for a certain part of the population consisting of useless individuals who are so inept that they have run their own businesses into the ground. I believe such people should be allowed to go bankrupt. This will free up the space for new, talented, enterprising individuals. The government should butt out and stop trying to save companies that can’t save themselves.

    How is that being in favor of big government exactly?

  7. Brianna |

    Well, THAT’s not. But then you say stuff like this:

    “People keep saying that Obama is in favor of a strong government. As a liberal, I sincerely hope he were in favor of it.?”

    And whenever I’ve written something against the “nanny state” of welfare… against health care reform, for example… you jump on me like I’ve just stated that I want people to die in the streets. So why do you think welfare is OK for poor people, but not for rich people?

  8. Clarissa |

    “why do you think welfare is OK for poor people, but not for rich people?”

    -Because it’s a contradiction in terms since rich people are well off enough already. 🙂 Wouldn’t you agree that a business that is not viable on its own and needs constant government support to survive is not really a business?

  9. Brianna |

    “Wouldn’t you agree that a business that is not viable on its own and needs constant government support to survive is not really a business?”

    I would agree with the principle that no human being is entitled to the stolen work and effort of others, no matter their income or class status.

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