Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Soldier", A Poem By: Danielle La Valley

I would like to share this amazing poem written by a friend of mine.

By: Danielle La Valley

I am heroic and I am brave
Innocent lives I fight to save.
I fight for my country; it’s your country too
Let us stand and salute the red, white, and blue
I am a solider of the United States
And I vow to protect ‘til I meet my fate
I am one of millions defending this land
Divided we fall, together we stand
School wasn’t for me; I’m a warrior at heart
And after graduation I was ready to start
I wrote down my name and I was enlisted
To trade my identity, to be a statistic
Is the number they used to recognize me
Ready as ever to prove I’m a man
They shipped me off to Afghanistan
When I left for my base, I was cautious as a mouse
As I drove through Kabul, passing house after house
Some people stopped while others stared
And others ignored because they didn’t care
The city around me passed in a whirl
But for a split second I saw the face of a girl
Most of it was covered with a scarf over her head
But her eyes peered out through loose pieces of thread
They were deep, dark brown and enriched with purity
Though her glare intensified with forced maturity
I didn’t know what to think, who was I to her?
Or was I overanalyzing a passed by blur?
Many nights came when I’d dream of her stare
Over time that memory slipped away to the air
Day after day after day had begun
I’d march and I’d march and I’d march ‘til it was done
I’d wake up before dawn and sleep after night
Exhausting it was but I used all my might
I trained hard and long until I got to shine in my hour
To bring down the enemies who brought down our towers
They buzzed off my hair and gave me a gun
I locked and I loaded and was ready to run
I entered the truck with a helmet on head
Strong feelings in heart, there was nothing to dread
I closed my eyes so I could focus my mind
And sort through my thoughts so I could find
The things and people I was fighting for
Freedom, family and friends, nothing less, nothing more
I opened my eyes to a treacherous view
Dark gray storm clouds looming under skies of blue
No amount of training could prepare anyone for this
My heart sunk to my stomach and digested into abyss
The buildings were burning and crumbling to shambles
Glass covered streets that were crooked and scrambled
The ashes and tar suffocated my lungs
The evaporating steam hit my eyes so they stung
I was thrust out of the truck and the moment alike
And called into position to be ready to strike
My body responded with actions second nature
As I marched towards combat deep into the obscure
The silence made my ears bleed worse then gunshots and screams
As I pretended to be where I wasn’t, like a bad lucid dream
I ran hiding and lurking to stay true to my mission
As I created “Black Hawk Down” in my own rendition
My team split up so we could we encircle the enemy
After we cheered to our training at the military academy
I crouched into position and low crawled to a window
As I spied the opposition 500 feet below
I pulled out my gun and locked onto my target
My hands started to quiver and my palms started to sweat
The man down below glanced up into my eyes
I nearly jumped out of my skin from surprise
There were those deep, dark brown eyes so pure
All of the innocence raped away by death and by war
And for a moment his eyes light up horrified
Because I had decided whether he lived or he died
But that moment had passed as my finger pulled the trigger
A decision decided from trained hostile vigor
He fought for his beliefs just I fought for mine
So can someone please explain where is the enemy line?
Is it at our manmade borders that make up hundreds of nations
That define who we are just because of location?
Take away each other’s gender, age and race
Let’s tackle the issues we all have to face
Peel back all of our wounds and let the truth bleed
We are all people with the same basic needs
Some food to eat, water to drink and shelters for protection
To feel we are wanted and loved is the hearts resurrection
I killed a man today and inside he killed me as well
It’s a shame his story is one I’ll never hear him tell
But it’s all in the name for the red, white and blue
I fight for my country; it’s your country too
And I vowed to protect ‘till I meet my fate
Because I am just a soldier of the United States

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11: The Status of Muslims 10 Years Later

Ten years.

Its been 10 years since the tragic day when 19 hijackers viciously and blindly crashed planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, corrupting perception of a pure religion by claiming the acts in the name of Islam. The attacks left 2,819 dead of 115 nations, and a country in fear and despair.

From that day on, America would never be the same.

Being a Muslim American, I am very fortunate to be raised in a country that decrees all men are created equal, despite the presence of controversy in that statement. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, a city with a fairly diverse population. As a kid, I was taught to respect all people despite their ethnicity or religious backgrounds. In fact, diversity lies in my family as well; I have an aunt who is Italian, I have family residing in Africa, and personally I'm Pakistani. I learned how to be open, how to trust, and learned the universal principles that are common in every person.

The morning of September 11th, 2001 was just like every other morning. It was the beginning of my second school year, I was a first grader, only six years old. I woke up at 6:45am and went to school. What began as an ordinary day rapidly turned into the worst. My Dad came to pick up my cousins and I from school, since, as the news of the attacks spread, we were dismissed early.

It seemed like something out of a movie. It just didn't seem real. But it was, and after that my life changed.

I was no longer free to be a child. Thoughts of right and wrong infiltrated my brain. Who is friend and who is enemy? Who is the attacker and who is the victim? Questions I shouldn't had to have asked myself at that age. Questions like; "Who are Muslims and who are terrorists?" or "Is there even a difference?". Questions against my own faith.

I couldn't hide from the fact: Americans had every right to hate Muslims out of ignorance. People had every right to call me a "camel-jockey", a "Muslim faggot", "Osama's son" - because it wasn't their fault they didn't know the true meaning of Islam. The fact is, its ours.

We as Muslim Americans for the past 10 years have carried and for the foreseeable future will continue to carry the responsibility of defining Islam. Don't get me wrong, 9/11 was not the fault of anybody but terrorists. I repeat: TERRORISTS. The word "Muslim" should never be antecedent to the word "Terrorist". The terrorists who attacked on 9/11 were not Muslim, because true, practicing Muslims know the virtue of tolerance and the sin of murder. And by blasphemously connoting these two words with their corrupt intentions, these terrorists blemished a pure religion.

In the past 10 years, hostility towards Muslims has increased. But this doesn't mean we Muslims should fall back. We shouldn't add fire to the fire already created by continuing to ridicule the seriousness of these acts, and this sentence is mainly dedicated to my fellow Muslim youth. People had every right to call me those names because they didn't create them, we did, and we agreed upon them. We created the atmosphere of misinterpretation. Our "jokes" that we are related to Osama, or our "parents are ragheads", were taken advantage of, and are now being used against us. Because of our immature comments, we have given others the opportunity to capitalize on our weakness of simply wanting to fit in.

Enough is enough. For some of the fellow young Muslims, listening to their own jokes being repeated by others has gone too far. They've realized that they created the monster. For other young Muslims, they've continued to corrupt the perception of Islam by false representation.

I truly believe the solution to the end of Islamophobia, the fear of Islam, lies in the Muslim youth. We have to represent our religion for what it is, not what others think it to be.

10 years have past and 10 years have escalated Islamic hatred. The only end is through the abolishment of ignorance. People shouldn't have to inform themselves about Islam, we, as Muslim Americans, need to act as the catalyst of that change. It is our responsibility to be the teacher, because the classroom rule is as follows - when the teacher speaks, the student must listen.
I had an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer regarding the post 9/11 status of Muslims. Read it here: Inquirier: U.S. Muslims Reeling From Ostracism After 9/11