What do you think of when you when think of home? The sights, the smells, or the people most likely. Now imagine leaving your home to move to a place where life seems better, work is easy to find, money is easily made, and everything is better. Only to find out that things are not what they seemed. The memory has romanticized leading one astray from the truth.
Oscar Hijuelos addresses this idea of romanticizing the homeland in his short story Visitors, 1965. Hijuelos portrays Hector Santinios, son of two rural Cuban immigrants, living in New York who struggles with his own identity as a Cuban-American. He paints an idealized Cuba in his mind to escape the cracked walls of his family’s apartment; imagining a Cuba full of light and freedom. However, as his relatives arrive from Cuba, we see the Cuba they come from. Fleeing from Castro in power, only a few items in their bags and the seer excitement to see all the food in the kitchen shows they have endured hardships to reach the United States and they will not take it for granted .
Hijuelos is describing a fundamental issue in United States on immigration.
For many, coming to the United States is necessary for survival and to have a better life. However, once they arrive, they are faced with racism, discrimination, and treated as second-class citizens. Even when they risked their lives to reach a better place, they find themselves barred from society until they contribute. This has been standard in the United States since its creation and it still plagues it today. It is hard not to idealize a better place when the tenement housing is full of cracks in the wall. The land of opportunity but only for those who shed their past for its own. Even if the standard of living is better, the idea of coming to the United States has become romanticized. As the poet Jimmy Santiago Baca states in his poem Immigrates in Our Own Land;
“We came here to get away from false promises,
from dictators in our neighborhoods,
who wore blue suits and broke our doors down
when they wanted, Arrested us when they felt like,
swinging clubs and shooting guns as they pleased.
But it’s no different here. It’s all concentrated.”
Memory is a living idea. It is constant changing and evolving as one goes through life. Hijuelos describes Hector as a young man who struggles with his identity as a Cuban-American. He does not speak Spanish well, nor does he feel Cuban yet hates how he is Americanized. But he loves the notion of Cuba, the place where his family is from and where he visited when he was young. His memory focused on all the pleasant aspects of life in Cuba, the most profound was a drink made by his Aunt Lusia. He describes it “with deep chocolate and nut flavors and traces of orange and mango, the bitter with the sweet, the liquid went down his throat, so delicious”. However, when he asks her about it thinking it was Cuban chocolate, her response is laughing as she tells him it was just Hershey syrup. 
This issue with immigration surrounds many Latino-Americans. They feel deeply connected to their past but even if they have been in the United States for generations, their history or story is not told. They are expected to shed their past and embrace the history of United States as their own. But that is not their identity. One should not be told to forget their rich history to embrace one that has yet to accept them. No one should be told to forsake their identity in order to become a part of a culture.
In addition, reminiscing and dwelling on this romanticized past can be harmful as well. Constantly complaining on how life was before makes it hard to look forward. Hijuelos shows this by the success of Pedro and Alejo. Alejo has lived in the United States for two decades and is trapped by his idealized memory of the past to move forward. By comparison, Pedro is driven, works hard to find a job and is grateful about every opportunity that presents and is successful. Hijuelos clearly shows the harm of idealized memory and how that affects the psyche of many Latino-Americans. Even Aunt Lusia, who has struggled to get to the United States, ignored her situation and focused on the past rather than the present since the society has ignored her.
This is where museums must play a longer role in telling the story of Latino-American and all immigrants seen on the fringe of society. Instead of forcing them to shed their past, by telling their history and incorporating it into the larger narrative, their history is not lost and they become a part of a society that accepts their culture and past. Recently, there is a movement to place a national museum of the American Latino on the National Mall in Washington D.C. which will make strides in keeping the history in the light rather than tossed away.
 Hijuelos, Oscar, “Visitors, 1965,” Face to Face: Readings on Confrontation and Accommodation in America, ed. Joseph Zaitchik, et al. (Houghton Mifflin Company), 235
 Baca, Jiimmy Santiago. “Immigrants in Our Own Land.” Poetry Foundation. Accessed March 30, 2016. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179708
 Hijuelos, p.233
 Hijuelos, p. 234