CABO ROJO, PR — As customary at my advance age I have become more like the migratory birds and butterflies that fly South for the winter. As such, Puerto Rico’s west coast is my home away from my South Bronx. Being here for the Christmas holidays is like nowhere else as Puerto Rico is known for having the longest Christmas holiday season in the world. Today and for the next few days the malls and stores throughout the island are packed not just for customers returning, or exchanging some gifts, or items they might have received on December 25, but because they are still shopping. Yes, Christmas is not over in Puerto Rico. The next big holiday here and celebrated more than Christmas (in the barrios and small towns) is Three Kings Day, on January 6.
The fact is that Puerto Rico celebrates and commemorates a lot of dates and periods of history and culture. However, I have been very disappointed in the lack of attention given to commemorate the life of the great baseball super star, Roberto Clemente who lost his life on a fatal plane crash carrying badly needed supplies to Nicaragua’s earthquake victims on December 31st, 1972.
Since we arrived in late December, I have read several daily newspapers, listened to news and several radio stations. It was surprising to me that I did not hear anything about Roberto Clemente during this period. I do understand that Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the two most celebrated days of December and most of the attention is on preparing for those holidays. However, taking a few moments to also remember that a star baseball player was going around the island working almost non-stop to raise money to buy items to send to help Nicaragua is also important and really defines the spirit of the holidays which is “giving.”
I’m not promoting additional parties on the day Clemente lost his life, but at minimum, a recognition, perhaps a seminar, a class, a television special, or cultural event promoting the caregiving that Clemente demonstrated would do much to help the psyche of an island nation that is colonized and needs to remember its heroes even in overwhelming days like New Year’s Eve.
I’m proud that our Latino Sports team met in early December, and we agreed that we would commemorate the 51st anniversary of Clemente’s passing with our 21 Days of Clemente. For 21 days commencing on December 11th until December 31st our site ran a feature story, interview, video, or pictures on the great Roberto Clemente. We want to thank all our team members and friends that contributed to those wonderful 21 days. Because Clemente can not be forgotten. We look forward to taking it one step further this December. If you missed any of those interviews, or articles, they are still available to read under our baseball heading.
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