Cuban immigrants share precious family heirlooms to show history of Cuban exiles by Janey Fugate Julia Adán Pelegrín, 71, opened a black suitcase full of faded elegant shirts. Those shirts, she explained, belonged to her father, Emilio Adán Silva, when he was a Supreme Court justice in Cuba, and they represented his life before he and 12 other justices signed a letter denouncing Fidel Castro’s government. Eight years later, his family moved to Miami. Those shirts, Pelegrín says, represent the sacrifice her father made for his family and express the pride she feels. “These are not only memories but items of everyday use when Cuba existed as a nation,” Adán said. “[These shirts] were on the streets of Havana. They lived there.” Such feelings of pride and nostalgia prevailed Saturday in the lobby of the Freedom Tower, when dozens of Cubans gathered to donate or lend objects of historic interest that document their exile experience. More than 300 items — passports, documents, photos, clothes — will be part of an exhibit that will open at the tower in September. The inauguration of the exhibit is a key step in the preservation of Cuban history, said Alina Interián, host of the event and executive director of Miami Dade College cultural affairs. “We want to pay tribute to the people to whom this tower means so much,” said Interián, who also was processed at the Freedom Tower when she arrived from Cuba. Between 1962 and 1974, Cuban refugees were processed at the tower, known as “The Refuge.” It was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008. The exhibit, titled “The Exile Experience: Journey to Freedom,” is a collaboration between Miami Dade College and the Miami Herald Media Company. Its objective is to document, preserve and share the history of the difficulties the exiled Cuban community went through since Fidel Castro’s rise to power. The facility has deserved a project like this for some time, said Luisa Meruelo, 93, who worked for the tower’s immigration service for nine years. “I was always wondering why no one had done something about the refugees here,” Meruelo said. “This is a long story, a beautiful story.” The exhibit is a way to thank the nation that gave them refuge during that turbulent time, she said. “We have to thank the people of the United States for being so generous to us at a very difficult time,” she said. Now, the museum can show items like the first coins earned in this country, the tie that an immigrant was wearing when he arrived, a wedding gown and the tiny dress of a 3-year-old. To the people who wore them, these items are intimately associated with the difficult experience of having to abandon their native country. One of those people was Mercy Advocat, who arrived in 1962 with her brother in the Pedro Pan Operation. That exodus took place between 1960 and 1962 and brought more than 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children to the United States. “The last thing our parents told us before leaving was that my brother and I should never be separated,” Advocat said. “We then boarded the plane and, when we landed, the first thing they did was separate us — the girls from the boys.” Advocat and her brother eventually were sent to the same foster home in Albuquerque, N.M., and they ended doing what their parents had told them. After two years, they were reunited with their mother in New York. The black-and-white photos Advocat brought to the tower show her mother’s tears when she reunited with her children. She is lending those photos and a doll brought from Cuba — some of her most precious keepsakes — to the museum. She is not ready to part with them yet. “I’m not so old to have to donate them,” she said. © 2014 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved. Read more here:

Maria del Carmen Valdivia Martinez

Maria del Carmen's Story

Florida Heritage Landmark Dedication Ceremony, Historical Reference

By Carmen Valdivia,

OPPG Historic Committee Chairperson

OPPG Board of Directors

Florida City Alumni

The state of Florida ha...

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Hi Maria, I would like to connect with you on this site!

Message by Rose Gomez, M.D., D.F.A.P.A. | Mar 23rd 2014

Si creo que en esa foto veo a Katia y Mara que eran hermanas y no veo las catas de las Otras pero son conocidas.

Message by Noelia M Monne y Martinez | Feb 16th 2014

Hola Maria del Carmen, tambien vivimos en Florida City mi hermana Marthica y yo. Nos fuimos hacia Louisiana en febrero de 1962 y pienso conoces te a algunas de las muchachas que Vivian con Los Suarez de las que estaban desde 1961 que no se habian ido cuando llegaste. Aimee, su esposo y su hijo eran muy amables. Tenemos fotos tomadas en su Casa que algun dia encontrare y compartiremos. Recuerdo bien Florida City, las Navidades alli, viajes al downtown y la playa de Homestead. La foto que tomaron en la playa que aparece ahi me recuerda a unas que tambien tomo mi hermana y algunas de las muchachas estaban alli con nosotras. Haces una labor muy Bonita y Tienes nuestro respeto. Sincera mente, Noelia Maria Monné.

Message by Noelia M Monne y Martinez | Feb 16th 2014

hi maria del carmen you went to miami high with my name is teresita concepcion maruri also from peter pan arrived feb 3 1961 went to kendall facility and relocated to albuquerque new mexico stayed almost 2 years and reunited with my mother live in miami

Message by teresita concepcion maruri | Jan 26th 2014

Buenos dias, mi senora Yvonne Massip fue parte de Peter Pan, llegando a Delaware cuando tenia ocho; nuestra hija esta haciendo un documental de su mama y de Pedro Pan. Ella busca un conctato para fotos y permiso para usar fotos. Me pudiera escribir? Danilo Figueredo

Message by Danilo H.Figueredo | Nov 15th 2013

Felicidades Carmen "a las dos". Recibi tu informacion y enseguida me puse en acion; algo que todos Pedro Pan aprendimos de muy temprano. Envie mis e-mails y que fatalidad, me lo devolvieron, no se porque pero no me detuve. Llame a los comisionados y les pedi su numero de fax. Haci fue como los pude mandar a cada uno. Para mi satisfaction, escuche por el mismo Sr. Perez-Roura que St. Jude se quedara para siempre parte de nuestra historia. Muchas gracias por estar atenta y mantener tanta passion por lo nuestro. Carinos, Maria

Message by Maria de los A Cuevas-Anthaume Balmori | Jul 28th 2013

Hi Carmen, you remember me as the German owner of 3619 Flamingo Drive in Miami Beach. We have sold hat house now and are in the process of buying another one. Are you still doing architecture? The house I have in mind needs some upgrades. Maybe you would be interested? Best regards gerhard

Message by gerhard bechtoldt | Jul 27th 2013

Saludos Carmen, Tuve el placer hoy de oir las "dos" Carmen por Radio Mambi, via internet vivo en New Orleans). Quisiera apoyarlos con la preservacion de St. Jude. Es nuestra historia y es nuestro deber y derecho mantener nuestras raices y huellas de los cubanos en ese exilio. Estoy muy de acuerdo y les doy toda razon. Pueden contar conmigo en lo que se pueda hacer. Quizas una lista de firmas de todos nosotros, aunque fuera de Miami,les mandamos nuestro apoyo. Tienen aqui mi nombre y e-mail para el jueves si se llega hacer entregar una lista en el City Hall de Coconut Grove. Estare atenta al resultado y que Dios los bendiga. Adelante, Maria Cuevas-Anthaume

Message by Maria de los A Cuevas-Anthaume Balmori | Jul 22nd 2013

Gracias por el certificado de PP. Disfrutamos de la toma de posecion de la Junta Directiva. Estoy de regreso en Indiana.

Message by Luis Crispin Perez Barrios | May 22nd 2013

how did fidel castro change your life.

Message by lydia | Feb 26th 2013

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