Celebrating History, Celebrating Freedom | NBC Southern California

Celebrating History, Celebrating Freedom

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Growing up in Ohio, although in a Latino household, we never celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. I grew up in an area where backgrounds, skin color and cultures didn't define anyone.

    Even though you'd hear Spanish spoken in my home more so than English, it wasn't until my older years that I began to really appreciate the history that came with that.

    I am the son of a refugee from Cuba.  My mom was 13 years old when she was put on a plane and sent to the U.S., part of a secret program backed by the U.S. State Department and the Catholic Church to get kids off the island after Fidel Castro took over. It was called "Operation Pedro Pan" or "Peter Pan."  She lived in an orphanage in Ohio, then with a foster family, until five years passed and her siblings and parents could finally join her here. 

    There's a strong American pride in my family because of that -- because of what this country did for my family in welcoming them from Communist Cuba with open arms.

    The more I research my own family's background, the more I become interested in the struggles of other families who try to attain that same American pride. This year, Hispanic Heritage Month brings with it some continued concerns nationwide about the issue of immigration. While Latinos celebrate their independence across countries in Latin and South America, families will gather in their own special ways -- some of them free to do as they please, naturalized citizens like my family; others may gather in shadows, afraid to show their pride because they remain in a country that is not theirs. 

    Regardless of your take on the issue, one feeling is universal: we are all, as human beings, entitled to our freedom.