The Pin

We sat in his office at the Eisenhower building adjacent to the White House and chatted. We talked about this blog, how it came to fruition and why. We compared our childhoods and lives here in the Cuban diaspora. We spoke of our mothers and how the raised us and we talked about our fathers and how they worked so hard to provide for their families. His dad, he told me through teary eyes, had passed away six months ago.

I offered my condolences and assured him that he must have been – must still be from above – very proud of the son he raised.

As we left his office, he offered me a small token – a pin of the Presidential Seal of the United States of America in a small regal blue box – from him to give to my father. I thanked him profoundly and placed the small treasure in my suit pocket.

When I arrived back home, at my parents house, I sat down with my father and mother and wife and recounted the story of that short meeting at the Eisenhower Building. I handed the small blue box over to my father and told him this was especially for him, a small gesture from another son of Cuban parents from the White House.

My father’s cumbersome and calloused hands trembled as he fidgeted the box open. After a few seconds that seemed like an eternity he managed to remove the lid and see the small treasure inside.

“When I left Cuba,” he said with tears running down his aged cheeks. “We had nothing and noone. I was scared. And back then, I could never have imagined that one day my son would be a guest at the White House.”

We all sat there – my father, my mother, my wife and I – in complete silence for a few moments, contemplating the efforts and sacrifices and hard work of life in exile and the absolute privilege of living in freedom.

17 thoughts on “The Pin”

  1. Way to Val, very proud of you and of being a part of this blog. It goes to show you, one of the things my dad taught me. Hard work, eventually pays off.

  2. Val, your Dad’s comment “We had nothing and noone. I was scared” brought tears to my eyes as I thought about my own father. I was 14 when my father, mother, sister, and I left Cuba. Upon arriving at Barajas airport, we were greeted by a snotty Spanish security guard, who made some comment about how we were all a bunch of traitors for deserting the revolution. I will never know whether this SOB was doing this to check our true colors. But I remember how incredibly alone and scared I felt at that moment, even though I was only a kid and did not have the additional burden of having to take care of a family. I don’t think I will every really fully appreciate how scared my father must have felt at that moment. Please, give your Dad a hug on my behalf.

  3. I am proud to be an American. This is a great nation, worthy of the blood, toil, sweat and tears that have been expended to defend her. All the leftist cynics in the world can’t wipe the majesty and greatness that 15 generations of real Americans have built. Great story, my brother.

  4. Val,

    Congratulations! I’m sure this experience will be with you for the rest of your life … and with your proud family and friends … what a great anecdote to share with your grandchildren … 🙂
    I wish you well! Melek

    “So, then, to every man his chance — to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining golden opportunity — to every man his right to live, to work, to be himself, to become whatever his manhood and his vision can combine to make him — this, seeker, is the promise of America.” ~ T. Wolfe

  5. Congratulations Val, I know how much this means to you, and your family. I’m so proud to be a part of Babalu. Way to go amigo.

  6. Awesome, Val. Just make sure to let me know the NEXT time you’re in DC: I know a bunch of folks up there who’d really like to meet you, and who I know you’d get along with.

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