You'll often find people with itchy noses and red-rimmed eyes ambling amidst the long rows of white crosses at Miami’s Tamiami Park on Coral Way and 107 Avenue. It's a mini-Arlington cemetery called the Cuban Memorial, and it stands in honor of the tens of thousands of murder victims of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. It is a tribute, too, to those who fell while trying to free Cuba from the barbarism that the two imposed with their Soviet overlords while America’s “best and brightest” dithered, bumbled and finally betrayed the Cuban people. The tombs are symbolic. Most of the bodies still lie in mass graves.
Some of these Cuban Memorial’s visitors will be kneeling, others walking slowly, looking for a name. You may remember a similar scene from the opening frames of "Saving Private Ryan." Many clutch rosaries. Many of the ladies will be pressing their faces into the breast of a relative who drove them there, a relative who wraps his arms around her spastically heaving shoulders. Try as he might not to cry himself, he usually finds that the sobs wracking his mother, grandmother or aunt are contagious. Yet he's often too young to remember the face of his martyred uncle, father or cousin – the name they just recognized on the white cross. "Fusilado" – firing squad execution – it says below it.
There are 14,000 crosses in all, symbolizing those executed on the orders of the man being swamped and feted by U.S. trade delegations from Louisiana to Nebraska to Maine. Even many of the older men walking among these crosses will be red-eyed, choked up. No denying it, we Cubans are an emotional people and not ashamed to show it, at the proper time.
The elderly lady still holds a tissue to her eyes and nose as they wait to cross the street after leaving the memorial. Her red-eyed grandson still has his arm around her. She told him about how his freedom-fighter grandfather yelled "Viva Cuba Libre!" and "Viva Cristo Rey!" the instant before the volley shattered his body. They cross the street slowly, silently, and run into a dreadlocked youth coming out of a music store. His T-shirt sports the face of her husband's cowardly executioner, Che Guevara. They turn their heads in rage toward the store window. Well, there's the murderer's face again, on a huge poster, $19.95 it says at the bottom, right next to the inscription "Fight Oppression!" You, friends, tell me how she might feel.
Another woman will go home after placing flowers under her father's cross – a father she never knew. "Killed in action, Bay of Pigs, April 18th, 1961" reads the inscription on his cross. She was 2 at the time. "We will not be evacuated!" yelled her father's commander into his radio that day, as 41,000 Red Troops and swarms of Stalin tanks closed the ring on her father and his 1,400 utterly abandoned Band of Brothers. "The Best and Brightest" all had important social engagements that day.
Castro's legacy: The Cuban Memorial in Miami.
"We came here to Fight!" her father's commander kept yelling at the enraged and heartsick CIA man offering to evacuate them from the doomed beachhead. "Let it end here!" was his last yell, barely audible over the deafening blasts from the storm of Soviet artillery. Her 23-year-old father – an accountant in Cuba a year before, a dish washer in a Miami Hotel only two months before, and now grim-faced, thirst-crazed and delirious after three days of continuous ground combat – heard the order from his commander: "No Retreat! We Stand and Fight!" and rammed in his last clip. By then he'd long realized he'd never see his daughter's graduation.
His ammo expended, he fell among the bodies of 100 of his comrades, after mauling his communist enemies to the score of 20 to one. "Wimps! Yes, Wimps!" the woman hears Michael Moore label her father and his Band of Brothers in one of America's best-selling books. "Crybabies too!" Again, friends, you tell me how she might feel.
Castro murdered her relatives, shattered her family and plunged a nation – which had double Japan's per capita income in 1958, plus net immigration from Europe – into a pesthole that repels even half-starved Haitians. He jailed, tortured and murdered more political prisoners than pre-war Hitler, and about 20 times as many as Mussolini. He asked, pleaded and finally tried to cajole Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, the “Butcher of Budapest,” into a nuclear strike against America. Failing there, he tried to blow up Macy's, Gimbel's, Bloomingdales and Grand Central Station with more TNT than used by the Madrid subway terrorists.
Yet Fidel Castro is still hailed as "One Helluva Guy" by Ted Turner; as "Very likable, a man I regard as a friend!" by George McGovern; and "Way Too Cool!" by Bonnie Raitt, among dozens upon dozens of other accolades by dozens of other liberal scoundrels and imbeciles. Today the U.S. is his biggest food supplier.
Tens of thousands of Cubans (and dozens of Americans) fought him. "We were fighting for Cuba's freedom as well as America's defense. To call us mercenaries is a grave insult," says Alabama Air Guard officer Albert Persons about his and his Alabama comrades' heroism during the battle of The Bay of Pigs. The Kennedy administration might abandon our comrades out, they snorted. We sure as hell won't.
It was more than bluster, too. Four U.S. volunteers – Pete Ray, Riley Shamburger, Leo Barker and Wade Grey – suited up, gunned the engines and joined the fight. These were Southern boys, not pampered Ivy Leaguers, so there was no navel-gazing. They had archaic notions of right and wrong, of honor and loyalty, of who America's enemies really are. Their Cuban comrades – men they'd trained and befriended – were being slaughtered on that beachhead. Knowing their lumbering B-26s were sitting ducks for Castro's unmolested jets and Sea Furies, all four Alabama air guard volunteers flew over the doomed beachhead to lend support to their betrayed brothers in arms.
All four were shot down. All four have their names in a place of honor next to their Cuban comrades on The Bay of Pigs Memorial, plus streets named after them in Little Havana, plus their crosses at the Cuban Memorial. When Doug MacArthur waded ashore on Leyte, he grabbed a radio: "People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil – soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples." Cuban soil was similarly consecrated.
"My hatred of Bolshevism and Bolsheviks is not founded on their silly system of economics or their absurd doctrine of an impossible equality," wrote Winston Churchill. "It arises from the bloody and devastating terrorism which they practice in every land into which they have broken, and by which alone their criminal regime can be maintained." Sir Winston Churchill did not lose a single family member or close friend to that "bloody and devastating terrorism." Yet to this day his every utterance and note is revered as an exemplar of judiciousness and heroism. But let a Cuban-American who lost half his family to Communist firing squads and prisons express the identical sentiment and he's promptly denounced by liberals as a "screaming, irrational hothead!" "Disgusting!" spat Bryant Gumbel while watching Cuban-American demonstrators in front of Elian Gonzalez's uncle's house six years ago.
Some very dedicated and selfless folks are holding a memorial service, including a Mass and vigil at the Cuban Memorial in Miami's Tamiami Park this weekend. The service is open to the public. Attend and you'll be surrounded by a sea of crosses, many heroes and heroines, along with their surviving friends and kin. If ever a group merited a memorial service, it's those here honored. Even if you're not related to any of these folks, even if their story is new to you, attend and you'll honor heroes who fought America's most rabid enemy – and for good measure poke a sharp finger into the eye of the establishment Left.