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:

Fernando L. Collado González

Fernando L.'s Story

yo vivia en la ciudad de MATANZAS en el reparto VERSALLES. ATENDI LA ACADEMIA DE MUNI. y llegue a matecumbe en oct. 13 del 1962 ahi estube cuatro meses y ME movieron para FLORIDA CITY por mi edad [ 14...

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Happy Birthday, Fosforito!

Message by Susy Rodriguez | Mar 12th 2014

hola Fernando,a lo mejor t acuerdas d mi, me decian en matecumbe el enano o guerrita,llegue en mayo 18 62 y estuve en la carpa d Alejandro tambien hasta q me mandaron a Albuquerque a finales d nov.tu nombre me es conocido,d todas maneras t mando saludos d hermano peter pan

Message by Reinaldo Guerra Hernandez | Nov 2nd 2012

Estimado Collado, te acompaño en los sentimientos. Mis mayores deseos para que tu querida madre descanse en paz en el Reino de los Cielos del Señor. Pepe Amaro.

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Dec 13th 2011

Saludos a todos ustedes que conosco perdonen mi silencio pero he tenido mucho trabajo cuidando a mi madre desde que mi padre murio en Octubre del año pasado y ella la pobre tanpoco esta muy bien. les deseo a todos mis amigos un buen THANKSGIVING con su familia adios y abrasos a todos .Fernando

Message by Fernando L Collado Gonzalez | Nov 18th 2011

Dear Fernando, just wanted to let you know that it was great expending time with you and your family. May God bless them always and may He give you patience and strenght to deal with your Mom. You made our fitst visit to Chicago even more memorable. You are a real brother to us and we love you for it. Arelis & Luis

Message by Arelis M Alvarez | Aug 9th 2011

Fernando, muchas felicidades por tu nombramiento al Board Of Trustees.Tu siempre compartias con nosotros desde pequeño y te ganastes el cariño de todos,tu conoces nuestras fibras!.Nuestra hermandad se enriquece al tenerte cerca. Un fuerte abrazo...MELVIN ( Te puedo seguir llamando MATANZAS ? )

Message by Melvin F Noriega Plasencia | Jun 19th 2011

Happy Birthday Fernando!!!!

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Mar 12th 2011

Dichoso el. Me alegro que esten bien. Solo queria que supieras que estabamos pensando en Uds.

Message by Arelis M Alvarez | Jan 30th 2011

Querido Fernandiño: Que bueno volver a saber de ti. Ya casi que íbamos a enviar el snow patrol para encontrarte. Tony says hello. My son Matt now lives in Baltimore. Daughter's still at UW in Seattle. Both doing fine. How are the wedding preparations going? I think of you often and wonder how your mom is doing. You are in my prayers. Love, Yoli

Message by Yolanda Cardenas Ganong | Jan 30th 2011

Hi Fernando, we miss you around here.

Message by Carmen Valdivia | Jan 30th 2011

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