[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: November 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honoring Cuban-American Veterans

I was going to cross-post this earlier, but got caught up with other things and just got around to it now. Better late than never...

What follows is a revision of a piece I originally wrote in 2005 and re-posted at Babalu in 2007. It's my small way of honoring our veterans on this Veteran's Day 2009.

Veteran's Day has always held a special place in my heart. I'm far from being alone in feeling this way, but please allow me to feel a sense of personal pride on this day. The reason for this is that my father is a veteran of the Vietnam War.

As a youngster, I heard many of my father's Vietnam stories and his frighteningly detailed accounts of combat. The most harrowing account was of the day one of his platoon-mates set off a booby-trap, sending shrapnel flying through the air. My dad was fortunate and blessed to survive that day with relatively minor injuries. I heard about my dad's stay in an Army hospital and hearing the screams of other wounded soldiers writhing in pain. Some of those young men didn't survive the night. I also remember my father recounting our short time in Ft. Hood, Texas where he served the remainder of his time in the United States Army (I was barely a toddler when we lived in Ft. Hood, otherwise the tragedy of last week would have resonated that much more with me).

Our family was blessed to have met other Cuban-American veterans and their families during my dad's service in the U.S. Army. It undoubtedly made our stay in a place far away from Miami much more like home. My memories are also rich with all the stories my dad and his fellow Cuban-American veterans shared years later at picnics, birthdays and long weekends at the beach. Needless to say, I have always felt an immense sense of pride for these men. There is no higher honor than serving your country and being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.

What makes my father and his group of veterans even more special is that they weren't born in the United States. They were born in Cuba and escaped the island prison in the same way that so many did back in the early years of "the revolution". They were teenagers and young adults in their 20s, their futures suspended because of exile. These folks eventually chose to serve their adopted country against a foe much like the one they and their families fled from just a few years before. While many Americans protested and even left the country, these foreign-born men embraced the opportunity to defend freedom.

As I mentioned above, there is no higher honor than serving your country. There is one exception, however: serving your adopted country.

In Miami, there are at least four organizations of Cuban-Americans who have served the United States of America in the Armed Forces. These are:

- Veterans of Foreign War Jose Marti Post 10212
- American Legion Capt. Felix Sosa-Camejo Post 346
- Vietnam Veterans of America Candido Molinet Chapter 620
- Cuban-American Veterans Organization

I'd like to bring special attention to the name Felix Sosa-Camejo. Here's some information on Capt. Sosa-Camejo courtesy of this statement read before the Senate Committee on Armed Services in 2006:

(Felix Sosa-Camejo) came here, to Miami, as a 20 year-old refugee from Castro’s regime and enlisted in the Army in 1963. Serving for five years, Captain Sosa-Camejo earned 12 citations, including the Bronze Star, three Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts. On February 13, 1968, in the heat of the Tet Offensive on the streets of Hue, his platoon was pinned down by enemy fire and unable to reach a wounded comrade. With disregard for his safety, Captain Sosa-Camejo ran through the intense enemy fire and pulled the wounded man to safety. This action would earn Captain Sosa-Camejo his second Bronze Star and would cost him his life.

(Babalu's) Humberto Fontova wrote this about Capt. Sosa-Camejo back in 2006:

“On February 13, 1968, the lead platoon was hit by an enemy bunker complex manned by approximately forty North Vietnamese Regulars. Upon initial contact the point man was wounded and lay approximately 10 meters in front of the center bunker. The platoon was unable to move forward and extract the wounded man due to the heavy volume of fire being laid down from the enemy bunker complex.“Captain Sosa-Camejo immediately moved into the firing line and directed the fire against the enemy bunker. With disregard for his safety, Captain Sosa-Camejo ran through the intense enemy fire and pulled the wounded point man to safety. After ensuring that the wounded man was receiving medical treatment, Captain Sosa-Camejo returned to the fire fight and again exposed himself to the intense enemy fire by single handedly assaulting the center bunker with grenades killing the two NVA soldiers manning the bunker. As he turned to assault the next bunker an NVA machine gun opened up and he was mortally wounded. Captain Sosa-Camejo’s valorous action and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”

Next time you hear someone complain about Cuban-Americans' alleged (and blatantly false) lack of devotion for their adopted country; next time you hear an immigrant complain about this country, you might want to share these stories with them.

The following link is a copy of a speech by former U.S. Representative Dante Fascell in commemoration of the VFW Jose Marti Post's 20th anniversary back in 1991. It serves as a good reminder of one of the many sacrifices made by Cuban-Americans. Please take the time to read it, it's well worth the time.

To all veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, and especially to our Cuban-Americans vets, my deepest gratitude and respect for what you've done and for what you stand for.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Catching The Real Extremists

Remember the Dept of Homeland Security's report on rightwing extremism released earlier this year? It detailed many "sources" of this type of extremism, including returning military veterans and your typical white racist types. DHS's report on leftwing extremism, on the other hand, focused on more "passive" expressions of extremism.

Too bad that DHS had to pigeon-hole, because I would love to see where they're going to categorize Nadil Hasan and those like him.

Janet Napolitano has responded, however. By warning us to not backlash against American Muslims. Perhaps she and her agency need to worry a little less about our reaction to law-abiding Muslims and a little more about preventing the tragic Ft. Hood indicent from happening again somewhere else.

Bob Parks has more on this here.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Professional Violence

Wonder what Juanes and Olga Tañon have to say about this:
Famed Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez said Friday she and another blogger were punched and thrown violently into a car by presumed state security agents as they walked to participate in a peaceful march in downtown Havana.

``No blood, but black and blues, punches, pulled hairs, blows to the head, kidneys, knee and chest,'' Sánchez told El Nuevo Herald shortly after she and Orlando Luis Pardo were freed. ``In sum, professional violence.''

``I, being a person of verbal pacifism, am shaken by this violence, because violence silences anyone,'' the blogger declared in a telephone interview.

Sánchez, the best-known Cuban blogger on the island and off, said she and bloggers Pardo and Claudia Cadelo and a woman friend were walking to join a ``march against violence'' organized by several young musicians when they were intercepted by three men in civilian clothes. Cuba's state security service agents frequently operate out of uniform.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Mayor Regalado and Health Care

Two odds and ends stories:

- A nod to Miami's former "just say no" commissioner:

Tomas Regalado did NOT lose the Miami mayoral election held yesterday. NO word on what he did NOT say in his victory speech last night.

- The AP finally learns of a GOP health care bill.
After months spent criticizing Democrats' health overhaul plans, House Republicans have produced a draft proposal of their own. It's much shorter and focuses on bringing down costs rather than extending coverage to nearly all Americans.
To the AP, it's apparently like magic that the GOP comes up with a proposal. Then again, it's not like the GOP hasn't already come up with several proposed bills, but I'm not complaining.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Political Correctness: "Is This What It Feels Like To Die?"

I'm not a huge Dan LeBatard fan. But I have to admit, when he's on, he's on. His piece published today on Bob Griese's absolutely ridiculous suspension is top shelf stuff. It's also heartbreaking in its depiction of a decent man (Griese) being raked over the coals over a silly and non-offensive remark.

This is what our politically-correct culture has produced. Take a good look at Griese's comments:
"It has been a very tough week. I want to be known for something else. I don't want to continue this. I just want to put this behind me. I've gotten a lot of support -- calls from Keith Jackson, Don Shula. Is this what it feels like to die?''
And this gem from LeBatard pretty much lays it out here:
You know what gets lost there, right? An honest, open conversation -- one in which people, you know, learn and, you know, understand. You can't have those when scared. I wanted to know specifics. How and why, exactly, did he apologize? Because of the action, the reaction or because his bosses simply said he should? Had he heard from anyone in Miami who was offended? How does it feel to be at this storm center, knowing that this whiff of racism is the only thing some people will know of him as they come into sports from outside to see what all this noise is about? I wanted to make him human, not just four words.

But I understand his fear. If I didn't understand all this as the allegedly injured party, how could he? I can say what I want about this, too. I've got minority carte blanche. That dynamic can create resentment among white people, that I get more of a free-speech America than they do when discussing this stuff. I get it. I find myself dancing around land mines any time I want to discuss black issues on the radio or TV. Any sentence can end my career, which doesn't exactly foster healthy communication or confident discussion.

You can read the entire column here.

Foolishly bringing down a good man like Bob Griese just because of the cultural insecurities of a select few elite is just plain unfair and downright disgusting. Thank you very much, Political Correctness and those who support it.