Welcome everyone to our home!
Emilio, Emily and I are very happy that you’re here and we hope you very much enjoy this afternoon!
When our parents brought us to the United States as children they never imagined that the country that had opened its arms to them at a time of crisis would eventually become their country and in turn, our country. They came here to raise us in freedom and democracy so that we could thrive and learn. And that we did. We learned how to listen to and respect different ways of thinking, different nationalities, and different political ideologies.
We learned, as we watched our parents give up their homeland, their families, their history and in the case of my father who served proudly in the United States military, his life so that we could live the American Dream.
My father, a refugee from a country that is still in the stranglehold of the same oppressive government from which he rescued his family, my father, who when leaving for war said to my mother not knowing if he would ever see us again, that in a man’s life there has to be “something” that is worth fighting and dying for and for him that cause was freedom! My father, who would have been very proud to know that his little girl, years later, would be hosting in her very own home, the President of the United States, a President who just 21 days before publicly stated, “Today, I join my voice with brave individuals across Cuba and a growing chorus around the world in calling for an end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba and for respect for the basic rights of the Cuban people.”, the President that is the very first African-American in history to attain this most honorable office!
Each person believes that they are living in the “best of times” and in the “worst of times”. We look around at the difficulties and challenges that our world is experiencing and we wonder (I know I do) if history has taught us “anything”. We question if there is indeed “something” still worth fighting and dying for.
Then I look at the country where I was born, a place where hope and freedom are a part of their history, not their everyday lives and I see Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a Cuban dissident and now MARTYR who gave his life on a hunger strike for the promise of a free Cuba and Guillermo Fariñas who is poised to give his life at any moment merely asking that his government free 26 other sick and dying prisoners of conscience. I see the bravery of the Damas De Blanco; women who walk peacefully, silently, heroically, yet still get beaten and arrested for simply petitioning for the freedom of their unjustly imprisoned loved ones.
I look at this magnificent country that has molded me and is now my homeland and I hear a choir of voices expressing their wishes, their desires, their demands and even their disdain for our government, freely and without consequence and I smile and quietly thank God that despite whatever problems we may be facing, we truly are a free people!
The beauty of this amazing nation is that anything is possible! Even hosting a very political evening to get the “ear” of my President when I am politically non-affiliated but the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. put it succinctly when he said “We may have all come on different ships but we’re in the same boat now!”
And regardless of where we may have come from, what color we may be, what political party we may or may not belong to I think there are definitely two things that we can all agree on; the first is that we all love this country and the second was beautifully put into words by Dr. Lawrence J. Peter, an American educator and writer, when he said,
“Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame.” And it is my distinct honor to introduce him! Ladies and gentlemen, from one hyphenated American, I present to you, another hyphenated American, The President of the United States, Barack Obama!!