April 17, 2021

When I think of Queen Elizabeth, I also think of Fidel Castro

Sam Smith - The resignation of Raul Castro as head of the Cuban Communist Party just one day before the funeral for Prince Phillip  has odd meaning for me. You see, Castro's brother and Philip's wife have been the two most consistent public figures in my life. 

For me, Queen Elizabeth has the unique virtue of being responsible for my parents buying their first television set so they could watch her coronation.   I was at the time 13 years old and already feeling a bit cheated for not having a TV to watch.  I have always been grateful to her for this service. 

Castro's brother Fidel showed up at Harvard in 1959 while I was news director of the student run radio station. As I wrote later:

The most noteworthy figure to appear at Harvard during my tenure was the newly victorious Fidel Castro, who spoke to 8,000 enthusiastic faculty and students (including one from Brandeis named Abbie Hoffman) at Dillon Field House. Castro was still considered a hero by many Americans for having overthrown the egregious Batista. While those of us who had taken Soc Sci 2 knew that not all revolutions were for the better, there was about this one a romance that took my thoughts far from Harvard Square as a top Castro lieutenant, sitting in front of my little recorder in the Bick cafe, told me of his days with Fidel in the mountains. Castro was booed only once according to my broadcast report later that evening, when he "attempted to defend the execution of Cuban war criminals after the revolution. Castro asked his listeners, 'you want something else?' and proceed to give them a fifteen minute further explanation


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