Cabo Rojo, PR: Being in our homeland, Puerto Rico for the holidays has always been my dream from the moment I became an adult and rediscovered the island nation. Growing up all my life in the South Bronx and coming to Puerto Rico during my college years to visit my parents and family for Christmas was one of the liveliest experiences I had. It was then that I learned what partying was all about. Puerto Rico celebrates the longest Christmas in the world. If you love music, love dancing and endless parties, nothing beats a Christmas in Puerto Rico.
With all of that said, New Year’s Eve also marks a special day to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and thinking of what we want to accomplish in the following year. All that deep thought is always masqueraded as we plan where and with who we want to be with the last hours of the year? The New Year’s Eve party could start out with a family dinner, followed by visiting another party where most of the family will gather to end the year. After that big party with a new year’s toast, fireworks, and people shooting their guns (now illegal) was memorable. Then the party really continues at another level as we would all head to the town’s plaza where they would have well known orchestras, more dancing and partying in the outdoors like nothing I’ve ever experienced anywhere else. That might end, or might continue in the late morning in what we call parranda’s. That’s going to another family, or friends house and waking them with songs to let you in and continue partying.
When I started reflecting on all that goes into planning to be with family and friends on New Year’s Eve is what drove me to commemorate and remember, “The Great One,” Roberto Clemente. While everyone on the island was preparing to be with family and friends in the party of the year, Clemente was about to board a plane to take relief items to the earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
We know the rest of the story, December 31, 1972 this great thirty-eight-year-old pride of his birth town of Carolina, Puerto Rico and his second home, Pittsburgh died in that horrific plane crash. Yesterday and today, I wanted to wear his jersey in tribute to him. I gave some Retire 21 stickers to some friends who came by and reflected that this could be the year to retire his number 21 as this year is 2021.
However, I was shocked when on New Year’s Eve I visited the sites of all the major newspapers here, El Nuevo Día, Primera Hora and El Vocero and not one had any mention of Roberto Clemente. There was nothing to commemorate the life of the first Puerto Rican and first Latino in the baseball Hall of Fame and the man that did so much more than just be a superstar baseball player. Today, again I found, or heard NADA!!! SHAME ON PUERTO RICO. Meanwhile Nicaragua Commemorated the 45th anniversary for Clemente for helping their country in a great moment of need.
I know that this has been a terrible year for the majority of us. Covid-19 and #45 were the two major factors that turned our lives upside down. However, that’s not an excuse to forget Roberto Clemente especially here in Puerto Rico. I was not going to let this day go by and not have something on Clemente. So, while we are doing our Puerto Rican ritual of resting from yesterday’s small partying (3 of us) and cleaning the house to get rid of the negative vibes and bring in the new year with clean positive energy I had to take a break (my wife understands) to write this quick piece.
Therefore, today I dedicate this article to Roberto Clemente and promise to continue to promote his name and to assist and help guide the movement that I co-founded to Retire his number 21 in 2016.
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