Dr. Vincent DeGennaro Jr. '02 | May 21, 2014 | Notre Dame Magazine
As the storm lashed their homemade boat, they prayed that they would reach the shores of the United States. Key West, Miami, Naples — as long as the soil beneath their feet was the land of the free, they would have a new home and be free from persecution. The wind continued to howl and the waves crashed over the hull, slowly filling the stern with seawater. The Cuban exiles clung to the small craft for their lives, knowing that to be tossed overboard would mean certain doom. Slowly, the storm began to break and they knew that they would survive. More than simply being hopelessly off-course, they realized that the sail of the boat had been shredded in the tempest, and that the engine had taken on water and would need to be repaired on dry land. They floated aimlessly for hours with the current of the sea, unsure exactly how far they were from the eastern shores of Cuba.