Shoot Down: A documentary that hits close to home for this vet
This may seem a self-serving post that’s soooo off topic you might not want to stay to read it, but I’ve got a story to tell. Strange as it may sound and non veterinary though it may be, I speak so much about my personal life on Dolittler that it seems natural to tell it here.
Almost twelve years ago (on February 24th of 2006) my uncle was killed by the Cuban government. He was in one of two small planes shot down by Cuban MiGS over the Florida straits. The group he was flying with, Brothers to the Rescue, was known for rescuing Cuban rafters at sea as they desperately (on inner tubes and home-made rafts, no less) made their perilous way to the United States.
Though his plane was determined (by international authorities) to have breached no Cuban air space, his plane was shot down nonetheless. Radar evidence confirmed his innocence (though international law prohibits attack against unarmed aircraft under any circumstances). His plane and another, which also remained north of the Cuban air space border, were pulverized by missiles, leaving no debris for our Coast Guard search and rescue to discover.
This was his first flight with this organization. He’d been a staunch defender of human rights in Cuba and of democracy in general and a combat veteran after voluntarily enlisting for the Vietnam War. I’m convinced he had no idea this humanitarian mission would put him in harm’s way.
I grew up in a house adjacent to his (we’re a close Cuban-American family). My mother, his sister, was the oldest among four children. He was the youngest and, arguably, the most beloved by our family at large.
I was a already a vet (a designation of which he was most proud) when he was killed. I cherished his attention and his pride in me, which I fed off of in our last meeting a couple of months before he died (I was still living in Philadelphia at the time).
My immediate family was predictably decimated by his loss. We sought answers and retribution in the form of indictments against the Cuban officials responsible. We sought assistance in our investigations and were helped by individuals within our government and the UN, among other international groups, all of whom condemned the actions of the Cuban government in shooting down two unarmed civilian aircraft with four innocent human beings aboard.
Ten years later, my sister embarked on a filmmaking project to tell his story and that of the other three young men killed in the shootdown. She was a sculptor and a ten year veteran of a life of trans-continental modeling—which takes guts, in case you don’t know it.
My sister’s courage in producing this film and risking all her investments and personal wealth would be more than enough to make me a proud supporter of her finished product. The fact that it’s a stellar film and has won awards and critical acclaim is mere icing on the cake to this supportive sibling and loyal fan of all her artistic endeavors.
For this reason, and on behalf of my uncle’s memory (and his daughter, my cousin, whom I adore), I entreat you to make a special effort to see this film. If you live in South Florida or Los Angeles, the film is now extending its run in theaters (email me for details). It’s called Shoot Down. Check it out. It’s worth it, even for those of you who might otherwise never watch a documentary. The rest of you will have to wait to see it on DVD (or watch the trailer on the website).
If you see it, tell me what you really think. I couldn’t be prouder of my family, but I know the controversial nature of this politically charged issue has its detractors. I’ve heard it all, you can’t offend me…