LeRoy Collins Commentary 211

Commentary #211
19 August 2008

Letter to the Editor about "hope and change"

The fIrst words following my signature are from a lifelong friend (initials WMC), and submarine shipmate operating out of Key West FIFTY YEARS AGO!

In early December 1958, barely three weeks before Fidel Castro seized control of Cuba, WMC and I were in Havana aboard our submarine for a weekend of liberty ashore. Machine gun nests surrounded the Presidential Palace, and the city was displaying some makeshift signage extolling Revolucion, Viva Fidel, Death to Batista (the incumbent President), yet the Cubans on the street seemed calm and complacent.

WMC was a Castro devotee, along with most of the Cubans. It did not take long for those who loved freedom to realize that while Castro was bringing change, it was not the change they wanted. This article compares that climate of 1958 with what we are observing in U.S. Presidential Campaign 2008.

/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.

This is a bad memory for me too........too young to realize the complexity of charismatic speakers...wmc

Blue band divider with stars

From Richmond Times-Dispatch, Monday, July 7, 2008

Dear Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Each year I get to celebrate Independence Day twice. On June 30 I celebrate my independence day, and on July 4 I celebrate America's. This year is special,because it marks the 40th anniversary of my independence.

On June 30, 1968, I escaped Communist Cuba, and a few months later, I was in the United States to stay. That I happened to arrive in Richmond on Thanksgiving Day is just part of the story, but I digress.

I've thought a lot about the anniversary this year. The election-year rhetoric has made me think al lot about Cuba and what transpired there. In the late 1950s, most Cubans thought Cuba needed a change, so when a young leader came along, every Cuban was at least receptive.

When the young leader spoke eloquently and passionately and denounced the old system, the press fell in love with him. They never questioned who his friends were or what he really believed in. When he said he would help the farmers and the poor, and bring free medical care and education to all, everyone followed. When he said he would bring justice and equality to all, everyone said, 'Praise the Lord.' And when the young leader said, 'I will be for change and I'll bring you change,' everyone yelled, 'Viva Fidel!'

But nobody asked about the change, so by the time the executioner's guns went silent, the people's guns had been taken away. By the time everyone was equal, they were equally poor, hungry, and oppressed. By the time everyone received their free education, it was worth nothing. By the time the press noticed, it was too late, because they were now working for him. By the time the change was finally implemented, Cuba had been knocked down a couple of notches to Third-World status. By the time the change was over, more than a million people had taken to boats, rafts, and inner tubes. You can call those who made it ashore anywhere else in the world the most fortunate Cubans. And now I'm back to the beginning of my story.

Luckily, we in America would never fall for a young leader who promised change without asking, what change? How will you carry it out? What will it cost America? Would we?

Manuel Alvarez, Jr., Sandy Hook, VA

Blue band divider with stars

/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.


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