I wish names like Jeanne Vertefeuille, W. Frank Furr Jr., Gilbert Martinez, Ana Caracristi, or U.S. Ambassador James Sweeney and many others were famous and highlighted prominently in our history book. Unfortunately, their names may never be popular, even so they should be, because they are the great unsung heroes of the Cold War era.
The impact of their secretive work is immeasurable. Men and women help keep the world safe from nuclear annihilation.
Their work was classified as top secret and higher and thus they could not be talked about what they did, until now.
The people I mentioned had security clearances at the highest levels of government and thus even their closest relatives probably did not know neither the details nor the dangers associated with of work they did.
Imagine having flown over near enemy territory with several atomic bombs strapped underneath and not be able to share the experience even with your wife or parents.
Just think what it was like for persons to have worked on decoding highly classified foreign messages at top levels and not being able to reveal to anyone what you have been reading.
I think of the men and women who, being constantly being observed and under surveillance by domestic and perhaps even foreign government agents.
This all sounds like something you may see in a television program on espionage and spying but for some, who live amongst us, is a portrayal of a life that they worked in and actually experienced.
I have had the honor of meeting and talking to persons who flew top-secret missions, a person arrested for spying for the U.S., persons who worked years in code-breaking and others who did espionage work that is still classified even though 40-years has passed.
We should always honor persons in active service and our veterans and let us not forget the military and civilians who worked in the secretive and clandestine operations. Many of them believe that they can't discuss their contributions even to this day.
We must let them know that we, as a country, acknowledge their dedication and commitment even though the files of their work was classified and is filed in large vaults in dark and seemingly forgotten back rooms.
Armando F Sanchez is a historian and will be doing a free 60-minute presentation "Spying During the Cold War" at the Whittier Library on March 7, 2015 starting at 2 PM