Independence Day: Celebrating the 4th of July as an American son of Cuban refugees

I wrote this on a previous Independence Day, but nothing about it has changed. As an American born to Cuban refugees who had the good fortune of escaping communist tyranny and finding freedom in America, the 4th of July is an extraordinarily special day.

Every time the 4th of July comes around I can’t help but think of my parents. As a young couple with two small children, they worked hard for the few comforts they achieved in Havana, Cuba. But in 1959, they saw all their hard-earned accomplishments stolen from them by a brutal and criminal communist dictatorship. So they made the incredibly courageous decision to flee the tyranny of socialism and the Castro dictatorship and seek freedom in America.

And freedom is what they found and embraced in this extraordinarily generous and magnificent nation.

I was the first of my family to be born in the U.S. and my parents never let me forget that. My father always made sure to remind me how lucky I was to be born an American. To be born in freedom and be a citizen of a nation where my liberty is protected and guaranteed. The full gravity of that was difficult to grasp as a child, but now as an adult, I fully understand why my father deemed it so important. He himself experienced how fragile freedom can be.

Growing up my family would refer to me as El Americanito (the little American). It was point of pride for them; someone in the family had the good fortune to be born in and be a citizen of the greatest nation on earth. Again, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of this as a child, but later it became very clear to me. Thanks to my parents, I have the privilege today of being an American and celebrating Independence Day and the freedom and liberty America was built upon.

My parents are no longer around to celebrate this Independence Day, but their legacy will continue celebrating and honoring this great nation.