ESCANABA - While the majority of Americans are celebrating Independence Day with family get-togethers and picnics, parades, and fireworks, Luis Ruiz has even more reason to celebrate - he's celebrating his own family's independence after fleeing Castro's Cuba in 2005.
"For me, every day is Independence Day," said Ruiz, who was a guest at a book-signing conducted by author, J.C. Hager, at Book World in the Delta Plaza Mall on Saturday afternoon. Hager's newest novel, "Hunter's Escape - Quest for Freedom," a narrative of a Cuban man's attempt to find refuge in the United States, is dedicated to Ruiz. "While Americans spend the day camping, fishing and drinking beer, I'm celebrating my independence."
(See accompanying story)
Cuban immigrant, Luis Ruiz, and his family, wife, Silena, at right, and his two daughters, Viviam, 14, and Elizabeth, 8.
Since he's been living in the U.S. Ruiz said he also has a great respect for the Memorial Day celebration.
"I'm so appreciative of all those men and women in the military who were willing to pay the price for us to have this freedom that we all can enjoy," Ruiz said. "There are thousands who are still willing to pay the price."
Although Ruiz is educated and skilled in a number of areas, including working as a tennis and soccer coach, physical training and welding, he has been unable to find permanent employment to support his family.
"I know I would probably have greater success moving to another area of the country, but my heart is here in the U.P.," he said. "This is our home and me and my family love it here and would like to stay here. I learned how to weld but my heart isn't really in welding. I would love to find a job in the areas that I trained in. I would love to be able to teach. I'll just have to be patient."
But no matter what the future holds for himself and his family, Ruiz is optimistic and is grateful for freedom and a chance to pursue his dreams.
It's with a broad smile that he said emphatically, "When people find out about my coming to the U.S., they usually ask me, 'Were you chasing a woman?' I tell them 'Yes. She's called Liberty.'"