Portraits in Patriotism - Mel Martinez: Elementary School
Former U.S Senator and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martínez shares his journey to freedom in the United States. Mr. Martínez was part of Operation Pedro Pan in which unaccompanied Cuban children were sent to the United States to escape the newly formed communist regime of Fidel Castro. Before leaving Cuba, he spent time with his father who shared life lessons with his son. Mr. Martínez distinctly remembers the pilot announcing that they were in America. After moving around the state of Florida in settlement camps, Mr. Martínez was placed in foster care. After four years he and his family were reunited. Mr. Martínez helped his father become a veterinarian in the U.S and as a family they were highly active in the community. His family’s spirit of activism was the foundation of Mr. Martínez’s career as a public servant. He graduated from Florida State University Law School in 1973 and began his political career. He was appointed the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 2001 and became a United States Senator in 2005.