Three summers ago I witnessed the dancing eyes and exuberant smiles of fellow humans who were tasting freedom for the very first time. I was on a Florida barrier island when some three dozen very lucky Cubans escaped their captors, beat the odds in dangerous seas, and finally stepped into freedom on America’s shore.
It seemed that they came from another time – almost like characters from an old black-and-white movie about war and oppression. As I processed what I was witnessing, I began to realize that they were flesh-and-blood representatives of millions like them who have suffered in the clutches of communist regimes. From the Soviet Gulags, to China’s Tiananmen Square, to North Korea, to the tiny island of Cuba and other places in-between, 100 million men, women and children around the world have been victimized by communist thugs. Just 90 miles from our own border a third generation of Cuban people remains captive to the same brutal regime that terrorized their grandparents.
Americans are oblivious to the tragic reality that people in our own backyard and around the world still suffer and die under brutal communist oppression. The news media is all but silent about the bloody history while propagandists like Michael Moore get rich from extolling a radical socialist agenda and portraying the oppressive communist systems as benevolent.
Our children’s textbooks are strangely void of even a mention of the 14 million political prisoners who either barely clung to life or died in inhumane Soviet Gulags. Meanwhile, every year thousands of Cubans are still imprisoned and severely punished in dank jails. Thousands of others leave their loved ones in the dark of night, slip into home made rafts, and brave the deadly Florida Straits in search of freedom.
Most Americans don’t realize that we are just one month away from the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union. I will always remember how stunning it was to see the wall come tumbling down. But I am just as stunned when teenagers and young adults have no idea just how significant that day was – or just how wrong it is that twenty years later communism still has a stranglehold on many of our fellow humans.