Friday, March 25, 2016

History comes looking for you.

The Rolling Stones rock Havana today. The Western World's Capitalist Songsters in one of the last bastions of international communism. Unthinkable a year ago. The Leader of the Free World attends a baseball game in Havana. President Obama, the first black president in U.S. history, sits next to Raul Castro; they trade quips about on-base percentages and ERAs. The day before, they were debating Americanism vs. Cubano Communism. That was a course we had in high school in Florida -- Americanism vs. Communism. That usually meant the Soviet variety, but we were only too aware that Red Cuba was a threat just 90 miles from Florida. Mr. Muir taught eighth grade at Our Lady of Lourdes and we played basketball with his son. Mr. Muir, a respected teacher at a private school in Havana, fled Castro in 1959 and now teaching snotty-nosed Catholic Anglos in the same town that his honored former dictator Fulgencio Batista owned a house along the river. My father, who stashed supplies in our Wichita basement for the Apocalypse during the Cuban Missile Crisis three years before, now pointed out Batista's house whenever we drove by in the station wagon overloaded with his Catholic brood.

And a NROTC midshipman, 1970, I spent three weeks in Cuba. Gitmo, now the U.S. terror prison, a confused 19-year-old. We tried to pick up the teen daughters of Gitmo officers at the base pool. Barbed wire barriers threaded the border, guard towers manned by soldiers the only Reds we could actually see. Soviet spies followed in our ship's wake, Russian fishing trawlers the big joke, antennae crowding out the fishing nets on deck. At night at the officer's club, we heard pilots' stories about night raids against the commies of North Vietnam, of buddies lost to SAMs. "You'll be there soon enough," they said, "that war not ending anytime soon."

My vas pokhoronim! -- "We will bury you!"  said Nikita Khrushchev in Moscow during the height of the Cold War. Fall 1956 -- I was five. My father buried nuclear missiles deep beneath the Colorado prairie.

Said Obama to the Cubans: “I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas.”

History comes looking for you.

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