In his film “America, America,” loosely based on the life of his uncle, filmmaker Elia Kazan puts his thumb squarely on the very pulse of immigrants, not only the Greeks in Turkish Anatolia fleeing oppression, but all immigrants, whatever their point of origin.
To the “oppressed and huddled masses” seeking to pass through the golden door of Lady Liberty, the America of Kazan’s uncle was less a nation than an emotive idea.
In introducing Malvi Lennon of Windsor to a gathering that had come together in West Simsbury to support her candidacy as a Republicancandidate for the Connecticut State Senate in the 2nd District, former U.S. Representative Rob Simmons, recently installed as the new Chairman of Connecticut’s Yankee Institute, mentioned that the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba during the administration of President John Kennedy remained fresh in his mind because one of his supervisors at the CIA was among the first to land on the beach.
Mrs. Lennon was 6 years old when her father was swept up by Communist dictator Fidel Castro’s storm troopers following the failed invasion. He was, of course, interrogated, and following his prolonged interrogation, her father returned to his house so frightfully altered that the young child shrank from him and hid behind her mother.
There in her father’s pain, agony and humiliation, even a little terrorized child might have sensed the emotive idea of America: In America, the state, conceived as the servant of the people, did not intrude itself at every opportunity between the citizen and his lawful ambitions. There it was still possible for an energetic man or woman to leave to his children the real time legacy of his sweat and tears.
Malvi arrived in the United States in 1968. Her mother, a pharmacist by training who accepted a job in a factory, and her father, who found work in a beverage distributorship, left all their belongings behind in Castro’s Cuba, settling first in East Orange, New Jersey and later moving to Tampa Florida, where Malvi attended High School and later Hillsborough Community College.
She began her career in insurance with Aetna, moving to Connecticut as a claims adjuster for numerous municipalities and agencies as a part of her responsibilities with the Connecticut Inter-Local Risk Management Agency, there acquiring intimate knowledge of the relevant local, state, and federal regulations, working closely with individuals at all levels of the public sector.
In 2005, a little more than three decades after her father and mother left Cuba behind, Malvi finally accomplished her lifelong dream of owning her own business, the Lennon Claim Services, which she now operates with her husband Robert.
The weight of her life experience has convinced her that the key to prosperity in Connecticut and the United States is to be found in the increasingly rare and unique freedoms made possible by American democracy and free enterprise. Unlike other American citizens whose fathers and mothers have not felt on their flesh the lash of socialist deprivation, Malvi, should she be successful in her campaign, will bring into office with her a vital background of dreams fulfilled and a real understanding of life beyond the parameters of that emotive idea that for decades has drawn immigrants to America.