(ANDERSON) HERALD BULLETIN

For many Americans, the death of former Cuban premier Fidel Castro is a chilling reminder one of the most terrifying periods of American history.

It was October 1962. We were at the height of the Cold War, locked in a dangerous confrontation with the Soviet Union and a breath away from nuclear conflict.

Castro was at the center of it all, having made a secret deal with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev to place Soviet nuclear missiles on his island.

Great acts of diplomacy by President John F. Kennedy eventually won the day, and a disaster of epic proportions was avoided. But the Cuban Missile Crisis was forever seared in the consciousness of the American populace, which even today is haunted by memories of fallout shelters and “duck and cover” drills at school.

Something else entirely haunts Cuban-Americans, many of whom escaped Castro’s regime by crossing the waters between Cuba and Florida in whatever manner possible — boats, floats, inner tubes or refrigerator doors. The atrocities perpetrated by Castro upon the Cuban people are very fresh in their minds.

They remember the thousands of political prisoners he jailed, tortured and executed. They remember the property, belongings and personal freedoms lost to his communist ideals. They remember that there’s not a family left unshattered in their homeland by his reign.

And yet, as made evident by social media posts on the night of his death and the days after, there are far too many among us who know nothing of the evils Castro should be remembered for.

Too many simply see a frail, old man in a sporty sweatsuit that couldn’t possibly be a threat. They are ignorant of his horrible place in this world, of his role in nearly starting a thermonuclear war. They ignore the plight of a tiny island they likely will never see.

Those of us who do know, who do remember, must make them see. For, as the old saying goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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