Saturday, August 15, 2015

A very important historical event. Congrats to both countries. An important first step, for much more needs to be done, especially the end of the economic blockade. Let us also be cognizant that this important event is only possible because we Have President Barack Obama. This would never happen with a present day Republican in the White House or with other Democrats such a candidate Hillary Clinton.  Here is a very interesting first hand account.  

A Personal Reflection on This Moment in Cuba

AUGUST 14, 2015
A child looks out a window from inside the newly opened U.S. Embassy overlooking the staging area, at the end of a flag raising ceremony of the newly opened U.S. Embassy, in Havana, Cuba
Earlier today, as the flag–raising ceremony kicked off outside our newly-reopened Embassy in Havana, I was hunched over my laptop, frantically typing and straining to hear every word the Secretary said in his remarks.  This is not abnormal for me.  Part of my job in the Department’s Office of Digital Engagement is to live-tweet Secretary Kerry, so whenever he is giving an address, I am locked onto my computer like this. Sweaty-palmed and focused.
So it was strange when, as the Marines raised the flag and the national anthem began, I looked up at the livestream playing out before me and started to cry.
Why?  Well, it’s a long story.
Back in 1959, my father moved to Havana with his family because my grandfather took a Foreign Service position at our Embassy there. To this day, my dad describes Havana in a golden light -- much as anyone does who has visited the city. I know that he loved many things about Cuba, but especially the things that any 14 year old boy would love: catching tarantulas, fishing in the turquoise blue waters and, yes, watching the beautiful women. According to my dad, my grandfather had a more professional and age-appropriate appreciation for all that Cuba and its people had to offer, but he loved the place no less than my father did. 
In the summer of 1960, after my father’s sophomore year of high school, the families of U.S. diplomats in Havana were sent back to the States. My father, his sister and mother went back to Washington, and my grandfather remained behind, working at the Embassy until it closed in January of 1961.
In the late 60’s, my father went on to become a Foreign Service officer himself, working for nearly 30 years for the U.S. Information Agency. And today, you guessed it: I am a Foreign Service officer. A third generation diplomat -- all of us public affairs officers. 
So today, as I watched that flag go up in Cuba, I thought: did my grandfather watch this flag come down?  I’ll never know. He died 29 years ago this summer, and his generation -- the greatest generation -- was never one to talk about what they’d seen and felt. But I like to think that if he was at the Embassy the day the flag came down, he would have taken a moment -- stopped shredding papers, perhaps -- and watched those Marines lower the flag. 
Just as today, as I watched that flag go up, I’d like to think that he was with me for a while. And I think I know what he would say.
“It’s about time.”
About the Author: Alison Bauerline is a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Department of State's Office of Digital Engagement.
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