Freedom Flight Memories

Olga Martinez

We arrived at Miami International Airport on 12-15-1966 and were whisked away in a bus to a shelter located right at the airport. I was six years old and in awe. I remember the circular stickers on our clothes that told everyone we were Catholic and the Catholic organization was going to help us find a home. My family, father, mother, and sister were given a room with four bunk beds - I though it was fun and chose the upper bunk. I also remember a small candy store in the shelter and my father was able to get me Wrigley's juicy fruit gum. We spent a week there and a relative that lived in Lakeland FL came to take us out one day. We went to Woolworth and I was offered the pair of shoes of my choice - a red pair of Keds sneakers of course! The shoes were my first warm memory of the American way! The sneakers were for my trip to our new home in -- New York City. We arrived in NY in a heavy snow storm on mom's cousin greeted us and we started our new life in the greatest country in the world, the United States of America. The snow was really beautiful, we were cold but full of hope; all my parents wanted was to keep their daughters safe, get jobs and be ever grateful to this country and its citizens for letting us escape communism. Eighteen years later the little girl that had worn the red Keds was sworn in as a US Immigration Officer. I am currently still a serving this country as a civil servant in the US State father has since passed but I am still living his dream of freedom and gratitude.