Thank you images!
Remembering the past deeds of our war heroes is unpleasant because it is tied to a past or present war, but we look down on those who served and sacrificed so much when we don’t remember, especially those who are now selflessly serving us. America’s attention span is sometimes short and often takes for granted the things we should most appreciate; Our Freedom!
My friend Alan posted a photo of his grandfather who served in WWII and I was quickly reminded of the impact the war had on my family. Pictures always have a way of telling a story, even when those in them aren’t around to share their own story.
In the midst of the Cuban revolution and the disparity of living in a totalitarian system, my father’s sister married a World War II veteran and thanks to that union my family obtained asylum years later. America became a haven for my family. No one who has lived under a totalitarian system could understand the value of freedom or understand the cost that many heroes have paid and are paying to grant us the many rights that we often take for granted. Living in freedom is a gift; not a right!
When it was time for my family to leave Cuba, the new regime of government inspectors came to our house and took an inventory of every item in it. The few items that my parents considered sacred became the property of the new communist government and everything they owned, from photographs to memorabilia, would never be passed on to other generations. Despite the daily persecution they suffered from those who had adopted the new mindset, their courage and determination allowed them to resist and stay focused while waiting for permission to leave. As my mother and father ventured into the unknown to give their five children the opportunity to live the American dream; my mother hid a photo of her wedding day and it serves as the only memory of a past that my brothers and I have only heard through stories.
They were willing to face the uncertainties of life in a country where they knew nothing of the language and little of the culture. His goal was to provide a new life for his children in a place where they could live in freedom and allow his children to grow up loving a country that had become their own. Once they left, they never thought that the impact of the revolution would prevent them from seeing many members of their family again. My brothers and I know these relatives through stories, but they are stories without imaginary.
I was one year old when my family arrived from Cuba; my story and knowing where I come from has always been a passion. As I grew up, I was fascinated by reading history books and, in fact, reading stories that included pictures. Reading about the Americans who gave their lives in World War I, World War II, and other wars, in defense of the Nation’s integrity, honor, and peace of mind was always humbling to me. I remember the first time; I visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers of America and the emotional symbolism it represented. There were no pictures or stories attached, “they were American soldiers, known only to God.” Nobody knows who they were; no one knows his story; all that is known is that they sacrifice so much for the benefit of others.
The Espinosa family will always be grateful to the United States for giving us the opportunity to start a new life living in freedom. Although I was only one year old when my family arrived from Cuba; I am and always will be an American. I am not a hyphenated American. This does not deny my love for my roots, culture and my entire family who still live under an oppressed government.
There are families and friends from various backgrounds and different parts of the country who have been affected by a war of some kind. As you reflect on these impacts, be sure to appreciate the accompanying images and stories.
I want to thank my uncle Benjamin Palacios and Alan’s grandfather Robert Ellison Wheeler, both World War II veterans for their willingness to serve. I would also be forgiven if I didn’t thank my Aunt Obdulia for marrying Uncle Ben and my mom and dad for selflessly allowing me to have the adventure of a lifetime!