Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Pedro Pan" is 50: The story of how 14,000 Cuban children were sent to the US!

Time flies and we celebrate another anniversary of the Cuban-American experience.  The picture above shows parents saying goodbye to their children and putting them in a plane headed to Miami.  Today, we remember this anniversary:

"It hardly seems possible, but it’s been 50 years since Operation Pedro Pan began the airlift that eventually that brought 14,000 unaccompanied children from Cuba to this country." (Babalu Blog)

The Pedro Pan program
touched every one of us in a very special way.

In fact, my parents were approached in 1961 about sending the three of us kids to the US.   

It was a horrible time in Cuba and many of my friends' fathers were being imprisoned and executed.  It was a period of massive repression.  

It was a time when our parents had to make tough choices about giving their kids a chance to grow up with freedom.  

Our parents saw communism "eye to eye".  They saw the reality of communism, the lack of individual freedom and the elimination of God.  They didn't want their kids to grow up in that environment.

At the end, my parents decided to stick together and leave as a family in 1964.   In retrospect, I'm glad that we stayed together because many of the Pedro Pan children never saw their parents again.  

It is remarkable how close my sister, brother and I came to being one of those kids who were airlifted out of Cuba.

We salute the wonderful people who led this program.  

We remember the late Father Walsh and all of the wonderful nuns who cared for the children.  It was indeed a work of love!

How do you say "thank you" or "gracias" to so many people?  I think that you say "thank you" by standing up for freedom and remembering the sacrifice that our parents made for us.

P.S. In a previous show, we spoke with Carlos Eire, the wonderful Cuban American author, who was one of these kids.  Carlos discussed his book "Learning to die in Miami":

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