For some, the Orange Bowl will be best remembered for the Super Bowls it hosted and the National Championship teams it produced. Others will remember the stadium as the home of football legends and the true home of the Miami Hurricanes football team. Although knowledgeable of sports history, many Hurricanes fans forget about the abundance of non-sporting events that have taken place in their beloved OB since its opening in 1937.
OB, Cuban-American History
Here’s to you, President Kennedy
On Dec. 29, 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech to thousands of Cuban refugees, along with members of the Cuban Invasion Brigade, at the Orange Bowl shortly after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
After receiving the brigade’s flag, which was secretly taken out of Cuba during the invasion, Kennedy began his speech by thanking the members of the Cuban Invasion Brigade for all their hard work and courage.
“I want to express my great appreciation to the brigade for making the United States the custodian of this flag,” Kennedy said. “I can assure you that this flag will be returned to this brigade in a free Havana.”
The focal point of Kennedy’s speech was a promise to liberate Cuba.
“We support for Cuba.the right of free elections and the free exercise of basic human freedoms.land reform and the right of every campesino to own the land he tills,” Kennedy told the cheering refugees. “We support the right of every free people to freely transform the economic and political institutions of society so that they may serve the welfare of all.”
Camp Orange Bowl
In 1980, the Mariel boatlift was the mass migration of Cubans to the United States after Fidel Castro lifted the ban on the port of Mariel. According to Havana Journal, more than 125,000 Cubans made it to America between April 15 and Oct. 31, 1980. Miami’s Orange Bowl was set up as a camp for refugees.
Dance for the Dead
When there were talks of Fidel Castro’s possible death, CNN reported in January 2007 that the Miami City Commission approved the use of the Orange Bowl as an organized “gathering place” to offset the street parties.
Churchill Writes History
Winston Churchill gave a speech at the Orange Bowl on Feb. 26, 1946, after receiving an honorary degree from the University of Miami. Given just days before his famous “Sinews of Peace” speech, in which he referred to the Soviet Union’s division of Europe as the “Iron Curtain,” Churchill delivered a much more light-hearted speech to 17,500 spectators at the Orange Bowl.
Churchill was quoted as saying, “I am surprised that in my later life, I should have become so experienced in taking [honorary]degrees when as a school boy, I was so bad at passing examinations. In fact, one might almost say that no one ever passed so few examinations and received so many degrees.”
Orange Bowl for President
John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill were two of the most prominent political leaders of the 20th century, and they spoke at the Orange Bowl. Hurricanes fans may only remember the Orange Bowl for the great games it hosted, but the OB has played a pivotal role in history, especially here in South Florida.
Matt Mullin may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.