July 4, 2017
I was never one to celebrate the fourth of July, always falling asleep against the sounds of what could have been fireworks or gunshots (I live in Little Havana). But I never figured I would spent the holiday in another country. Especially a country that has a long history of hating mine.
When we got to the Giron Museum, I was struck by the plane that was situated outside of the museum. I knew we were at some military museum, but for some reason, it didn’t cross my mind that we were going to see their version of the Bay of Pigs. Until I saw the words plastered on the first wall you see when you enter: Victoria Del Pueblo Y Del Socialismo. Victory of the people and Socialism.
We looked around the small building; at what Cuba was like before the revolution, the uniforms, the weapons they used, the people that died. However, without a guide, we were all – especially those that didn’t understand Spanish – sitting ducks.
It was a little terrifying without some context. Thankfully, our professor and his wife were able to get us a guide. She, along with the only other woman in the entire building, looked like a vintage flight attendant with her beige ascot around her neck and white blouse tucked into her beige wrinkled-free skirt. She was very helpful in clarifying things for us.
Apparently after Cuba had won the skirmish, the Cuban government gave all the American prisoners a trial, condemning only five to death because they had been Cuban mercenaries during Baptista’s reign. They gave the rest of the prisoners back to the United States with the condition they supply medical kits and milk for their starving children. I can see why this was a blow for President Kennedy.
I think the craziest thing that stuck with me while we were at the museum was the fate of Eduardo Garcia Delgado. He was a Cuban soldier that got captured by the Americans after he was shot in the shoulder. Knowing that he wouldn’t survive his injury, he showed how faithful he was to Fidel by writing Fidel’s name on the wall with his own blood.
There’s a level of relief for me that he was remembered for this act. Something this incredibly outlandish and deeply-rooted into nationalism, though uncomfortable, should be remembered. Because what else would I write about?