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Living the American Dream

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

4th of July means a time with family and friends for most.

But for one local family, it means remembering there's a price for our freedom.

If leaving the ones you love for the chance of a better life is the ultimate price for freedom, Vicente and Fabiola Gonzalez have paid in full.

"I said let's go to America. She said no no no. So I did come in 1960 and then she followed in 1961," said Vicente.

Vicente and Fabiola were born and raised in Cuba.

They love their country and their people

But they could see the tide was turning in the early 1960s, as Dictator Fidel Castro was rising to power.

"You couldn't say anything. You couldn't express your opinion not even to your family, because they may have a different opinion," said Vicente.

In America, Vicente arrived with only four dollars in his pocket -- and a dream to raise a family that could have what they couldn't in Cuba.

"I came with $4. A $1.25 of which I had to pay taxes on for some cigars. Then I got in the cab and paid $2.75 for the meter, and I had to get out and walk the rest of the way," said Vicente.

In Cuba, Vicente was an accountant, Fabiola a school teacher, but in Miami, Florida Vicente began work at a gas station.

"I had to start at the bottom and work my way up," said Vicente.

The Gonzalez family moved from Florida to California and raised their two daughters the American way, but didn't compromise their Cuban roots and still don't with their five grandchildren.

"We always told them, they are Cuban, just born here in the US and they should be proud of who they are," said Fabiola.

In 1979, the family was able to visit their home country as tourists.

The trip confirmed their worst fears.

"I went back and what I saw was so bad. The life here is so different. I love this country. I always dreamed of going back, but no. It's hard," said Fabiola.

And that's why the fourth of July means much more than a backyard barbeque or time at the lake.

"It should be a time of respect. Freedom is not free. Someone has to pay and sometimes with their lives and that should be recognized," said Vicente.

Because it's freedom that's made their Cuban-American Dream possible, something they wish everyone could have.

After 45 years in California, the Gonzalez family moved to College Station to retire and be closer to their daughters.


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