Six years ago today, I was lucky enough to attend the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. I was leading a group of students, but it was me that learned the most that day.
Going to inauguration is not for the weak or the only semi-interested. It is D.C. In January. The temperature was in the 20s, and in order to get to a place we could see we had to leave the hotel at 3 A.M.
It is so crowded, you have a hard time moving at all. Getting to the bathroom and back is like an episode of fear factor.
It was all worth it.
The best part was the friends that I made. They were all young Muslim women from places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait, Jordan, etc.
I asked them each about their stories.
The first one volunteered, “I’m from Saudi Arabia. When I was 13, my father had a talk with my sisters and I. He told us that we were all brilliantly smart young women. If we stayed, he said we would never get to fully realize our potential. He told us we were going to move to America, where our gender would not stop us.”
Each of the others followed with similar stories. Each had made difficult choices of leaving their home countries to come to the land of opportunity.
Every one of them had degrees from prestigious places like Georgetown, NYU, and George Washington.
They were all in medical fields. Doctors, nurses, researchers, etc.
They all told me how much they loved and appreciated America.
During the ceremony, no one that I could see waved their flags more vigorously, smiled more broadly, or seemed to be cherishing the moment more than these young women.
“Immigrant’s patriotism” is a term that means that often times people who are not born here appreciate all of the freedoms and blessings that too many who are born here take for granted. These women definitely had this.
This is the America that so many fought outside and inside our borders to create.
This is the America I love.
This is the America worth the fight.
This is the America we owe the future.
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