Frederick Douglass once gave a famous speech about what the Fourth of July meant to black slaves. In short, it meant nothing. It would be wrong to say that Thanksgiving means nothing to Cuban exiles. Like the Pilgrims, we came here because we could not do otherwise. Our country had grown to small for us as England had for the Pilgrims. They, too, were exiles, removed from their place of persecution, but, unlike us, still subjects of the British Crown and bound to obey it. Sufferance was not suffrage, but the Pilgrims believed themselves to be free men and were determined to live as free men even if they had to go to the very ends of the earth to do so. We journeyed but 90 miles to a country that was at once perfectly familiar and completely incomprehensible to us. Like them, we adapted to our surroundings, rebuilt our lives and prospered. Cuban-Americans have been called the most successful immigrants in the history of this nation of immigrants, but, of course, we did not come here as immigrants 50 years ago and many of us still do not consider ourselves immigrants and never will. The fixed star in our lives still points South and it is still our hope to end our lives where they began.
On this day, still free (for now) and with material blessings abounding, we express gratitude for what we have received and pride in what we have given; and remember, as the Pilgrims also remembered nearly 400 years ago, whence we came and why. For us, the greatest Thanksgiving will be when the shackles of our countrymen are broken and they, too, may offer thanks for their freedom.