The recent events in Hong Kong and its people’s plight for freedom has once against shown the spotlight on the oppressive means in which communist regimes rule the people unfortunate enough to have been born in a communist country.
Images of protesters waving American flags and singing our national anthem as they marched through the streets flashed on TV news and accompanied articles of the crisis in the once free British colony. These protesters want one thing: to have the rights of a free people.
Some former citizens of Hong Kong saw the writing on the wall as the 1996 deadline approached for Britain to turnover Hong Kong to communist China. Fearing their civil rights would be diminished by the People's Republic of China, more than half a million people left their homes in Hong Kong to seek freedom from the oppressive hands of the communist regime.
Taking a stand against such an oppressive, totalitarian form of government should be a no-brainer, especially in a land where people hold life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the highest regard. Sadly, just the opposite happened recently when 30 Democratic members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted against a resolution to recognize Nov. 7 as Victims of Communism Memorial Day. This should have been a uniting, bipartisan, unanimous vote, not one that created a divide.
For decades, Democrats and Republicans have stood arm-in-arm against communism. From President Harry Truman through President Ronald Reagan, the American message to the world was very clear -- the oppression of people in the name of communism would not be tolerated. In a 1947 speech to Congress on the Soviet Union’s desire to expand influence in Greece and Turkey, Truman said “I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.”
This speech helped to set forth the doctrine in dealing with Soviet aggression and communist expansion throughout the Cold War. It was a plan laid by a Democrat and supported by Republicans. It was bipartisanship at its finest.
Truman’s hope for the world and a free Europe was finally realized on Nov. 9, 1989, the day communism was defeated and the Berlin Wall came crumbling down. As an elementary student, I remember holding a piece of the Berlin Wall in my hand, which was brought to class by a friend who had a family member stationed in Germany. I remember learning about the oppressive nature of communism. I remember talking with my grandparents about the world they grew up in, and how the world I would grow up in would be so much different. I remember telling my grandparents they would need a new globe for the house because there would be no more East Germany and West Germany – just one Germany. I remember, and therefore I voted yes on House Resolution 392
to stand with the victims of communist regimes.
We are fortunate to live in a country where all voices are heard, and elected officials have the freedom to vote against measures they don’t believe help the people of Pennsylvania. The negative vote by these 30 Democrats on House Resolution 392 accomplished nothing other than to say they are OK with an adversary to freedom. That they are fine with the fact that 100 million people lost their lives at the hand of communist rule. This goes against everything I have been taught by my parents, my teachers, my community and my country.
Most of the people killed by communists were just average people who disagreed with the political ideology. Others were academics, military leaders and government officials. During the Great Purge in 1937 and 1938, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had upward of 1.2 million of his own people needlessly executed. The one thing all these 100 million people have in common is they were seen as threats to communist regimes because they choose to question, or not fully support, communism.
I believe people must have the ability to question their government and their elected officials. I voted for House Resolution 392 because we must never forget the horrors communism bestowed upon the world. We must continue to stand against it, just as the people of Hong Kong are doing today.
Now, I must ask my colleagues in the House who voted against House Resolution 392 this simple question: Why? And, while they think of their response, I offer a quote from President Donald J. Trump’s Presidential Message on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, “No Iron Curtain can ever contain the iron will of a people resolved to be free.”
Representative Kate A. Klunk
169th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross