Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Senator's Story and a Father's Dream

As I finish Senator Mel Martinez's biography, A Sense of Belonging, tears cloud my eyes. It is the epilogue that has done it. Having grown up feeling like a second class citizen, I know all about "a sense of belonging." For much of the book, I have envied his magical childhood in Cuba, a place where he belonged. Then I have thanked my lucky stars that I grew up in the US, as I read the very lonely and scary predicament he found himself in as a Pedro Pan. But all along, I have known that at least for Martinez, the story has a happy ending. It is when I get to the epilogue that it hits me full in the face. No matter how well we assimilate, how successful, or "American," we never forget. And as those first generations disappear, his words are my words are the words of countless others:

Though he is gone, I have continued to dream my father's dream as well. It's a dream shared by millions of Cubans. I dream that someday I will walk with my family beside me, and with my dad's spirit to guide me, in a free Cuba where the people live under a just government and are free to worship as they choose and to live as they desire. America made a great dream come true for me and for my family, and I trust God will make the enduring dream of a free Cuba, which I still share with my father, come true as well.

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