Arlington National Cemetery — For almost 100 years Americans from all backgrounds have come together on Veterans Day to give thanks to and celebrate the dedicated men and women who have served our country in uniform. This Friday, in a special event to celebrate our veterans, the Alliance for an Indivisible America 2020 and the Muslim American Veterans Association sponsored an event an interfaith gathering at the National Cemetery in Arlington designed to underscore the devotion and diversity of those who served – and in some cases died for America.
The event was attended by veterans, family members and supporters from the Muslim American Veterans Association, the Center for Pluralism, MACCPAC, the Greater Washington Muslim Jewish Forum, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), the Muslim Association of Virginia/Dar Al Noor mosque, Masjid Muhammad in Washington, the Muslim Community Center of Maryland, various Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, and individual visitors to the Cemetery who happened upon the event.
As many speakers noted, the diversity of our nation was reflected in the many races, ethnicities and faiths of those who attended the commemorative event. Arlington Cemetery, with its mix of graves of every religious denomination and every ethnic group in America, was the perfect setting for the diverse group who came to honor their brothers and sisters buried there.
Imam Mohamed Magid, ADAMS Executive Religious Director, led a traditional Muslim prayer at the grave site of Staff Sgt. Ayman Taha, a member of the ADAMS community who died in Iraq in 2005 while serving in the US Special Forces. Imam Magid, who had presided over the funeral of S/Sgt Taha in 2006, noted that his sacrifice was fully in keeping with the dedication of the Muslim community to their American homeland and that his sacrifice was a testament to the patriotism of all immigrants who love America, of whatever faith. Several of the MAVA commanders also recalled their own service in the US Army, Navy and Air Force during the Vietnam War, and how much it meant for them to be able to honor the sacrifice of all their comrades, living and dead.
According to AIA 2020 Executive Director Robert Marro, a past member of the National Guard and a retired senior US Foreign Service officer, “Many American citizens were born outside the USA, but their level of patriotism and love of country is no less than native born Americans. Like these New Americans of today, my Grandfather, from an immigrant family from Italy, fought for America in France in 1918 along with many fellow American soldiers who barely spoke English but wanted to repay the country that had given them so many opportunities. I am proud to have served my country as a Muslim American, and especially proud to be associated with an event that typifies how much America has benefited from the service and dedication of both its new and old citizens.”