Friday, May 28, 2010

It Does Mean a Lot To Us

In memory of those who've fallen, and in honor of those who've served.

Most of you that have been following me for a long time, almost four years now have heard my story and or pieces and bits of how I came to be here in this United States of America. Living in Arizona and going through the crisis we are going facing the recent events it is easy to take us immigrants as ingrates just because we strive for something better for our families, our people, and ourselves. I wish there was an easier way to satisfy everyone but that won't happen anytime soon. America is so divided right now that I wonder how our soldiers do it. Thank God they do what they do and of course thanks go to all of them whom put their lives in harms way just so you and me can have a better way of life.

The following was sent by a dear co-worker of mine and it just made me remember my own story and that of my family. Although very different, it is also very similar. Mexico and Cuba, well not so much the same but here it is, a guest commentary by my dear friend Adela.

Memorial Day is a very meaningful holiday for me and I felt the urge to write this for all those who serve/are serving our country to maintain our freedom.

Most of you know that I was born in Cuba and understand what it is like to live in the realm of communism and appreciate the freedom our country allows us more than you could ever imagine. To better express it, about 5 years after my family came to make the US our new home, we were finally able to get my grandmother out of Cuba. On her first trip to a grocery store, she stopped cold at the entrance, looking toward the inside of the store with her mouth open. Once she got over the “shock” of what she was seeing she said, “This is paradise!”, and then proceeded to cry tears of joy.

My grandmother’s statement has always had a special meaning to me because it emphasized the fact that we are so fortunate to live where live, as well as a reminder that we often tend to take for granted what we have. Even though I was fairly young, I remember much. In Cuba, we stood in lines with ration books in hand not knowing what we would be able to get that day other than beans and rice. Meat of any kind was extremely rare, and fresh anything would be a crap shoot. There were no canned goods of any sort. If we found fish, it was usually bad and fed to the dog, as there was no “dog food”. You could only get milk if there was a baby in the house. Even for shoes you had a ration book that would only allow you a pair per year, if you could even find a pair to get!

Every where you went there were armed guards that would watch everything you did and said. There were also “committees” on every block that were “owned” by Castro who were responsible for making sure no one was doing anything against the “rules”. They would report incidents. Basically they were like “little” Big Brothers. Once my family declared to the government that we were leaving they came and inventoried our entire house, down to the last fork. It took 2 years to get their approval for us to leave including thousands of borrowed dollars from relatives and friends who had already left. Much of the money was stolen by the government, but you couldn’t say anything. Once approved to leave, they took over our house and made us move out. If there was anything missing from “their list” after we moved out, they would not had let us go because basically after you declare your leaving you are then a “traitor”. So, for 2 years labeled as traitors, we walked on eggshells all the time, making sure that we followed all their rules so we wouldn’t get into any trouble. Imagine!

I believe that sometimes we forget that we live in the greatest country on the planet. It’s a wonderful and awesome privilege to be able to live, eat, shop and travel where and when you please; to have a job; to practice whatever religion you choose, or not (I remember having to pray Castro in school after he took over; our churches’ doors were chained); to be able to publicly complain about our government, verbally or in writing, without fearing that we will be arrested never to be seen again (it happened to one of my uncles), or shot on the spot; and so many other things we need to treasure and be thankful for!

So, yes, THANK YOU! I so thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to help preserve our freedom. We owe you all very much!

When you cross paths with a military person, thank them! Most are so humble that they act almost a bit puzzled and shy about my thanking them (like it is undeserving), so I tell them again, “Really, I mean it, thank you!” It usually brings a smile to their face that says they understand that you believe what they are doing is very important. I think they need that from us!

I hope you all have a safe, great and happy weekend!


God bless us all! We are just one race. The human race. Happy Memorial Day and stay safe.


ChrisJ said...

From one immigrant to another -- great post Jose!

Wanda said...

I wish thousands would read your post today Jose. I read it with a humbled heart of gratitude that USA has always been my home.

Thank you so much for sharing this.

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