As Castro's 84th birthday passes, we reflect, along with Cuban-Americans, on the victims of his slaughter.
You'll often find people with itchy noses and red-rimmed eyes ambling amidst the long rows of white crosses at Tamiami Park on Coral Way and 107th Avenue in Miami. It's a mini-Arlington cemetery called the Cuban Memorial, in honor of Castro and Che's murder victims and those who fell trying to free Cuba from the murderous barbarism the pair imposed while "the best and brightest" dithered, bumbled, and were finally betrayed.
But the tombs are symbolic. Most of the bodies still lie in mass graves dug by bulldozers on the orders of Fidel Castro -- Ted Turner's fishing buddy, Harry Belafonte's bosom pal, and Barbara Walter's favored dinner companion.
It's no surprise that many have never heard of this Cuban Memorial from the mainstream media. It honors the tens of thousands of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara's victims, many of them U.S citizens.
Some of these Cuban Memorial 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 may say below it.
The crosses total 14,000, all at 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're an emotional people. And not ashamed to show it at the proper time.
A plausible scene may play out as so: An elderly lady holds a tissue to her eyes and nose as she and her grandson wait to cross the street after leaving the memorial. The grandson is red-eyed and 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. 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."
Tell me how she might feel.
Another plausible scene may be the following: A 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!" likely 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 1,400 others. "The best and brightest" all had important social engagements that day.
Perhaps the scene of his death took place in this way:
"We came here to fight!" her father's commander yelled at an enraged and heartsick CIA man offering to evacuate the troops from a doomed beachhead. "Let it end here!" was his last yell, barely audible over the deafening blasts from the storm of Soviet artillery.
The woman's 23-year-old father – an accountant in Cuba a year before, a dish washer in a Miami hotel two months before, and now a grim-faced, thirst-crazed, delirious man 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, and no more coming in from "the best and brightest," he fell among the bodies of 100 of his band of brothers, after mauling his communist enemies to a score of 20 to one.
Again, friends, you tell me how his daughter might feel.
Castro murdered her relatives, shattered her family, and plunged a nation – which had twice as much per capita income as Japan 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 the Butcher of Budapest (Khruschev) into a nuclear strike against America. Failing that, he tried to blow up Macy's, Gimbel's, Bloomingdales and Grand Central Station with more TNT than was used by the Madrid subway terrorists.
Yet he's 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 liberal scoundrels and imbeciles. Today the U.S. is Castro's 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," said Alabama Air Guard officer Albert Persons about his Alabama comrades' heroism during the battle of The Bay of Pigs.
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 heroic 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 Douglas 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."