Hispanic Heritage, My Parents, My Heroes

Family’s devotion and sacrifice taught daughter the importance of hard work and dedication

 

Mami & Papi Salzburg

Devotion to family is an easy trait to find among Latino parents. When it comes to heroes, most of us would probably not think of our parents, yet when invited to write about a Hispanic hero that has inspired me, there was not a moment’s hesitation on my part to choose mine.

It was 1966 and I was 5 years old when my parents emigrated to the U.S. from Colombia. Both left everything behind—a close family, career, lifelong friendships and the familiarity of “home” in pursuit of a brighter future for their four children. Forty-six years later Lucerito and Jaime remain an inseparable and dynamic duo.

 

 

 

The Meaning of Sacrifice

 

Winters in Brooklyn were torturous. I’m sure during those first few cold months Mom shed tears that we never got to see. We had all our basic needs taken care of but not without a good amount of pain. My father worked three jobs in those early years while Mom stayed home to make sure we were taken care of. She missed family and the support system back home; it took a toll on her and she had two miscarriages early on. We experienced discrimination and alienation that hurt deeply and cemented wounds that would take years to mend. Many times they wanted to return to their motherland.

Books are revered by my parents and growing up around these treasures made a huge difference to me. I learned about worlds so foreign I could imagine them only in dreams. We also nurtured our Hispanic heritage by reading books in Spanish and by writing about it. We spoke only in Spanish while inside our home or around our parents. We learned about fairy tales, lyrics and poetry, and how to conjugate verbs.