Only one short year ago, the flag of the United States flew over the American embassy in Havana, Cuba for the first time since January 1961.
“We are gathered here today because our leaders, President Obama and President Castro, made courageous decision to stop being the prisoners of history and to focus on the opportunities of today and tomorrow. This doesn’t mean we should or will forget the past,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was at the ceremony.
Although there were many government officials and guests in attendance, there three older gentlemen at the ceremony who shared a role in the embassy’s history that was small, but significant.
In January 1961, Marine Corps Sergeant Jim Tracy, Lance Corporal Larry C. Morris, and Corporal F.W. Mike East, lowered and removed the American flag as the embassy closed. Today, the three former Marines, all in their seventies, returned to Havana, Cuba and watched as Old Glory rose again on the embassy flagpole for the first time since the trio removed it over 54 years ago.
In every generation, warriors do their duty in historic events while remaining nameless and faceless to all but their comrades-in-arms. It is fitting and honorable that these three had the opportunity to get recognition for their roles that day in 1961 and to see history change course yet again.
This article first appeared in The Havok Journal on 14 August, 2015.