If former presidential aide Sebastian Gorka could save only one possession from his house, he would save the crucifix his father carved from a toothbrush while imprisoned under socialism in Hungary.

With powerful stories like this about his family’s escape from socialist Hungary and his father’s sufferings in a Soviet prison, the former deputy assistant to President Donald Trump on Friday urged the crowd at the Values Voter Summit to speak out for freedom.

Gorka, now an author and talk radio host, told his audience in Washington that the day he understood evil under socialism changed his life forever.

When he was 8 years old playing on the beach with his family, Gorka recalled, he noticed two thin lines on his father’s wrists. When he asked what the lines were, his father told him: “Well, son, that’s where the secret police bound my hands with wire behind my back so they could lift me to the ceiling of the torture chamber.”

“My life changed in the span of one sentence,” he said.

His father’s scars and the crucified Savior who sustained him through prison convinced him of the reality of good and evil, Gorka said.

The widespread approval of socialism among young Americans makes support for conservative values extremely important now, he said. According to the human rights group Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, for example, 52% of millennials wish to live in a socialist or communist America.

“We have one political grouping in our country that has come out of the closet as socialist,” Gorka said. “We cannot let them [win].”

He urged conservatives to fight socialism on social media and in other parts of their lives. Conservatives often don’t spread the message of freedom enough, Gorka said.

Once, he recalled, he spoke at a meeting for conservative women in Arlington, Virginia, where he saw only one pro-Trump bumper sticker. When he asked why attendees didn’t display pro-Trump stickers, they told him that they were afraid those who disagreed might key their cars.

Gorka didn’t accept that answer.

“Show some backbone,” he said. “Because we are in a fight to preserve the republic as the Founding Fathers intended it.”

Gorka told his audience that they should be open about their beliefs instead of fearing the left.

“I want every single one of you to become what the military calls ‘force multipliers,’” he said.

By participating in the national dialogue, individual conservatives can change the battle for America’s soul, he said. And if they don’t do so, they’re letting socialism win.

“If you are not on social media every single day supporting the president, you are part of the problem,” Gorka said. “Not part of the solution.”

The annual Values Voter Summit, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, was created in 2006 to help inform and mobilize Americans to preserve the “bedrock values” of religious liberty, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and limited government. Since its inception, the primary sponsor has been FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the Family Research Council.