Air Force One is a pretty handsome airplane. If only those wings could talk, imagine the places and things they've seen.
This past week, the massive Boeing 747 glided gently over the old neighborhood of Havana on it's way into Jose Marti international, bearing the President of the United States.
Being married to a Cuban, I've spent years listening to my mother-in-law deride, disdain, and dismiss anyone and everyone who has ever said or done anything positive with US-Cuba relations. "The Pope is a Communist" has been the refrain now for more than a year, and of course she can't stand the President.
But she's just turned 82. When she fled Cuba with two suitcases in 1961, she was a much younger lady at 28; younger than the age at which her daughter married me. (Mrs. TriSec was 33 on the day of our wedding.)
It's been a half century. Whatever Cuba she fled has become that magical, mythical place that Cubans want to "Take Cuba Back To", or whatever it is that they want.
Now with most of them aging and dying off at a prodigious rate, there seems to be only one mission left in life for most of them - outliving Fidel. He's not been in good shape himself recently, and at the age of 89, that day is coming soon.
Before I met my intended, my family had only the slightest links to the Pearl of the Antilles. My maternal grandfather was one of many musicians to the rich and famous of the 1950s - and more than a few times he was asked to go to the clubs in Havana, at least according to my mum. Grandpa never did, and was content to work for more than 50 years at the exclusive Everglades Club and Whitehall on Palm Beach.
My own father was a young, up-and-coming musician in those days, and also worked at Whitehall in Palm Beach. He told me the story about when the revolution happened and dictator Fulgencia Batista fled, he came to the ritzy Biltmore Hotel in Palm Beach, across the street from Whitehall, and what a zoo it was.
That was it. Cuba to me was that mysterious, commie-run island that wanted to nuke us, thanks to the Soviets.
Funny how love and marriage can change your perception.
In any case, "Only Obama could go to Cuba". It already feels like a new era. What the difficult work will be is ensuring that the changes remain permanent, and both nations go down the same road, even if it might be a different pace from each other. It's not quite the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1991 - a better parallel may be with President Clinton re-opening diplomatic ties with Vietnam.
There is one critical difference, though. There's about 1.7 million Vietnamese in America. This compares almost exactly to the 1.7 million Cubans here. But where the Vietnamese are scattered around the country (mostly on the West Coast) and have never quite banded together into a political machine, the Cubans here have essentially taken over Miami, and are quite vocal about it.
I suppose it goes back to the Bay of Pigs. My experience is that Cubans blame President Kennedy, and by extension ALL democrats, for the failure to overthrow Castro 54 years ago.
So the Republicans have swooped in, and have treated the minority block of Cuban-American voters as the most important voting segment in America. Pandering to them, and essentially agreeing to "Take Cuba Back", gives short shrift to the remaining 99% of the population.
Someday, I suppose, will they be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world.