Fifty-two years ago on Valentine’s day, a three-year-old boy boarded a small plane with his older brother, older sister, and mother. Unsure why Daddy wasn’t with them, he boarded at his mother’s direction and left behind a life he would barely remember.
This family was one of the quarter-million Cubans who had been welcomed to America by President Lyndon B. Johnson’s so-called “freedom flights.” These flights during the late 1960s and early ’70s accepted a combination of the lower and middle classes of Cuba who had lost jobs, livelihoods, family members, and rights to the Castro regime.
Arriving in America with little money, no husband, and three children, the young woman was determined to make a life for herself and her children in America. This woman was willing to risk her life and that of her children for the mere opportunity to succeed.
As she will tell you, the Cuban people have a grit comparable to no other’s. They are hard-working, loud, stubborn, and passionate. She constantly recalls stories to her grandchildren about how difficult it was to find her way in America, and reminds them how grateful they should be to live in a country so free.
The protests currently happening in that nation’s capital remind her of the lack of free speech in Cuba. She recounts watching Fidel Castro’s firing squads lining people up on prime-time television as an example to others.
While Americans protest not only in the streets of our cities but in front of the nation’s capitol and the White House without fear of retribution or punishment, Cubans hold those images in their minds. When they try to explain to the world what is happening to them, the Cuban government restricts their internet access. Indeed, the American dream is alive and well for everyone not too privileged to already live here.
I have been to Cuba but one time, and I remember it vividly. I recall the tour guide emphatically waiving his ration book as he was taking us past the meat market. I can still hear the excitement in his voice over how lucky he
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