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:

Marisol Mesa Rodriguez

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Marisol, antes te veia en Kendall, en el cine, en algun evento, pero ahora vivo en San Antonio, Tx, me dio mucho gusto vert tu foto y saber de ti. Tambien estabas en casa de Quesada, me recuerdo yo en una litera y Zolita Clark, RIP, luego Sonia de la Rosa, Lourdes y tu, Roy Miranda al lado de la litera y no recuerdo quien estaba debajo de mi litera.

Message by Amparo O Mendigutia Martin | Feb 25th 2013

Oh my Gosh, It's really you! It's been so long that it was really a very nice surprise, how is your sister Veronica? You look terrific!!!!!!! The last time I so you was in Indiana, do you still live there?

Message by Nancy Alvarez Viana | Feb 10th 2012

Mi muy querida Marisol, esto en verdad es un regalo del cielo, en una noche de insonnio y nostalgia me puse a buscar a informacion acerca de los Pedro Pan y al entrar al Herald me encontre tu mensaje de hace 2 años.Daria lo que no tengo por ver al Sol de la casa Wallings cuantos recuerdos! Ya se tu apellido y te voy a vuscar enseguida. Un Bessote Bien grande Yoyita

Message by Ana Miyares | Dec 11th 2011

Mari. te deje un mensaje en my profile GO AND READ IT OK. BYE y cuidate . FERNAN PS. you will get a good laugh

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Dec 10th 2009

Hola Mary que te paso el sabado? estuvimos esperandote bueno sera para la proxima espero verte de nuevo Carinos Tere

Message by Tere Diaz | Nov 11th 2009

Marirecibistes las fotos que te mande de la reunion? como sigues del FLU?

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Nov 11th 2009

Hola Marisol: Te extranamos anoche. No se te te acordearas de Carlos Padilla, el hermano de Gloria. El me dejo uno foto que creo que esta Yolanda, de la que estabamos hablando el otro dia en casa de Carmen. Yo el otro dia en el search con el first name y salen todas las Yolanda. Ningun apellido me lucio familiar. Tratalo tu tal vez si tu lo ves lo reconoces. Un abrazo hermanita.

Message by Silvia E Portu | Nov 7th 2009

Mariso, My e-mail is Looking forward to getting the article. Love L

Message by Luisa A. Llovet Varela | Nov 7th 2009

GRACIAS OK, HAVE A NICE DAY and 10qdaling!!!!!!!

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Oct 29th 2009

Hola Marisol,que bueno que aparecistes de nuevo.Un abrazo .Juanita.

Message by Juanita Garcia | Oct 28th 2009

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