Essay: The Death of a Lifetime

Dec 1, 2016

The death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro marked the end of an era in several ways. Lake Effect essayist Mark Siegrist thinks a pop song is the perfect metaphor to what Castro symbolized to his generation.

For baby boomers the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro triggers a rush of historic images.
Not unlike the lyrics in Billy Joel’s classic tune, "We Didn’t Start the Fire."
Good or bad, Fidel Castro was the longest running leader our generation knew.
And in a way his tenure serves as a framework for our global vision.
He ruled as we grew up.
Aged as we aged.
From the Cuban revolution.
To retirement.
And his brother’s hand in restoring U.S. relations.
Castro outlasted a string of American presidents.
But the 1962 stare down between him, Kennedy, and Khrushchev, still burns in our brains.
The “Cuban Missile Crisis” was about as frightening as it gets.
As were other nightly news references during our formative years.
Such as “Cold War,” and “Iron Curtain.”
Castro’s death unravels a lifetime of memory.
From Vietnam, to Dr. King, Watergate, the Berlin Wall, Ronald Reagan, the Rustbelt, internet, 9/11, and Donald Trump.
History is always in motion.
And often repeats itself.
A new administration is about to take office.
The future of U.S./Cuban relations is again uncertain.
As the tune goes…
"We didn't start the fire. It was always burning. Since the world's been turning."

Lake Effect essayist Mark Siegrist is a freelance television producer in Milwaukee.