There are 90 miles of ocean that lie between Cuba and the Keys. 90 miles doesn’t sound that far, but it is worlds apart. In Cuba; repression, poverty, and the inability to improve your life. In America; freedom and a chance for a better life. Every day, people risk their lives and those of their children in crudely made ships called chugs in an effort to reach our shores.
A week before my parents arrived in Key West, a chug did make it to shore. It took them 5 days in the August heat. Aboard the “boat” were 14 men, 1 woman and a baby. They are the lucky ones. A couple of days ago, there was a storm at sea. Two boats overturned. Two bodies have washed ashore and 15 are still missing. God help them.
Recently, I was reading an article about the pitcher, Jose Fernandez, from Miami who died in a tragic boating accident last weekend. He was from Cuba. It took three attempts for him to make it to America. On one failed trip, he jumped in the water to save someone who had fallen in only to discover it was his own mother. I can’t remember the exact quote that he said but is was basically that Americans don’t know what freedom means. How very true his words are.
Imagine the desperation of a mother to climb into one of those boat with her baby and children. In my privileged life I find it difficult to understand.
And yet, in our own nation, we have those who refuse to stand for the National Anthem. Refusing to honor the great gifts our nation provides to all who live here. It started with Kaepernick, and now the sickness is spreading to other NFL players and even to high schools. I understand our nation is far from perfect. There are those who act in ways contrary to the principles set out by our Founding Fathers. But Kaepernick and others are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. They are disrespecting the thousands upon thousands who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. Not to mention those police, fireman and service men and women who continue to protect our liberty.
We are in the midst of a presidential election. It can become easy to feel numb to the rhetoric and become complacent. But we must remember the great treasure we have in America. More, we must be willing to continue the battle of protecting our liberties for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.
I have included a great speech on politics given by Archbishop Chaput below. Recently, he spoke at Notre Dame, and his words of wisdom are for all of us. Let us never forget the privilege of living in this country. Let us always honor those who have given all for our freedoms. Let us continue to fight for those freedoms we hold so dear. Finally, let us pray for all those who do not have all the privileges we too often take for granted. JMJ