Guillermo V Vidal Ramos

 

Guillermo V's Story

Like many other children who were sent to the United States, I, along with my two brothers, Juan and Roberto, were sent to an orphanage in Colorado named Sacred Heart Home. Although life was difficult there, I remain grateful that my brothers and I had a roof over our heads and food to eat while we awaited the arrival of our parents three years later.

Although my brothers and I had certainly experienced the great trauma of being separated from our parents and sent to a place where we did not know the language or culture, it is really at the point of our reunification with our parents that our true immigration story begins. It was with them that we truly faced the challenges of culture shock, poverty, language barrier and discrimination that accompanies these sagas. Adding complexity to the situation, was the fact that my parents’ marriage had greatly deteriorated over the years, a condition that was exacerbated by the pressure of these huge life changes. They were also disappointingly reunited with three children that were mostly Americanized and had lost their filial bond with them.

The complexity of our relationship, combined with the pressures of our immigration, shrouded the coming decades with great struggles to survive, become educated and ultimately succeed.

All of us—with the exception of my father, Roberto, who passed in 1998—are still living in Colorado and, like many other Cuban children and families, we succeeded. My brothers and I have had successful careers. I became a civil engineer and spent decades in the field of transportation. In my forties, I landed a political appointment to join a governor’s cabinet. Later on, I even managed to become the first Cuban born Mayor of the great City of Denver, Colorado. The USA has been a great country for my family and me.

I wrote my memoirs in a book titled Boxing for Cuba, An Immigrant’s Story. It came out in 2007 and was a finalist for Colorado Book of the Year. I am proud to say that it is being reissued in Spanish at the end of this month. It is also available as an e-book through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or it can be ordered through your local bookstore.

I am always reminded that no matter what I have accomplished or have yet to accomplish, those things are all rooted in the decision my parents made to send the three of us to this country. It is by far the greatest act of love I have ever received from anyone, as my life has been—and continues to be—full of hope and opportunity because of them. More importantly, the sacrifice my parents made far supersedes their failings as human beings, for I understand now that they were given a very difficult hand to play and they did the best they could, given their circumstances. I don’t think I could have played it any better than they did.

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I was sent to Queen of Heaven orphanage (no longer in existence) then located at 4825 Federal - Denver, Colorado. This was an institution for girls. The boys were sent to St. Vincent Home also located in Denver, Colorado. Many of the girl's brothers were at St. Vincent and they were allowed to visit once a week for a couple of hours. It was just in the last few years I found out there were Pedro Paners located in an institution in Colorado Springs. I was reunited first with my mother and younger brother in 1966 and then with my father in 1968. This provided my mother the opportunity to be a single-parent raising two children on her own for a couple of years. During the years of 1966 to 1969 on Washington Street between 10th and 11th there lived four Cuban women all single-mothers with their daughters (except for my mother who had also had a son. All of us girls had been residents of Queen of Heaven. In the same area, also lived a Cuban couple with a daughter who had a niece who also had been one of the girls at Queen of Heaven. All the women helped each other as we all adjusted to managing our lives in said community. These women had to establish themselves as head of households, parent their children again, get jobs, learn how to manage money and learn how to drive. I recall meeting a woman named Martha Vidal. Was this woman your mother? She and my mother, Martha Valero, were friends. There were other Cuban households in the area. I thought your family was one of these families. I will greatly appreciate it if when you receive this message, your respond and help me with my recollections.

Message by Marta Valero | Oct 26th 2013

Guillermo V has uploaded new photos.

Status update | Oct 16th 2013

Welcome Guillermo! Colorado is our favorite place, have been there 9 times, both to ski and go to dude ranches in the summer. Muchos exitos with your book, I also have penned a book about our experiences, The Cubans Our Footprints Across America, where I profile many Pedro Pans and others who have enriched American society. Mis mejores deseos para ti y un abrazo, Fernan Hernandez

Message by Fernando P Hernandez Lorenzo | Oct 15th 2013

¡Bienvenido, Guillermito! We, as Pedro Pans, can't help but feel very appreciative and proud of your accomplishments and contributions to our adopted country. I’m sure you are fully aware that you have joined the long list of successful Pedro Pans that through their resiliency and commitment to excellence have placed the Cuban exile community in high regard and thus become a major and constant source of irritation for the totalitarian communist government of Cuba. By the same token, I'm sorry that you, your brothers and parents had to endure so much on the way to adapting and integrating into American society, but in a way our story is not very much unlike the story of most immigrant groups arriving in America's shores and earning through their hard work and sacrifice their rightful place at the table. On the other hand, the Pedro Pan story is unique as both a tragic historical event and a deeply personal and human experience. We must not forget, however, that all the pain we endured, including the suffering our parents faced during our separation, is no one else's fault than Fidel Castro's and his horde of thieves and assassins. By the way, I enjoyed reading your book. Thanks once again for setting a good example for all to emulate, particularly Hispanic youth. I am sure I speak for most Pedro Pans in wishing you continued success both personally and professionally. So keep up the GOOD WORK! Warm regards, José Antonio Amaro Reyes.

Message by Jose Antonio Amaro Reyes | Oct 10th 2013

Guillermo V has updated their profile.

Status update | Oct 9th 2013

Welcome to this network, Bill! I look forward to your story and photos. I also heard your book is fantastic! Can't wait to read it.

Message by Eloísa Echazábal | Oct 8th 2013

Guillermo V has joined the Pedro Pan Network. Please welcome them!

Status update | Oct 8th 2013

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