I hate to say it.
I’m not sure I can.
Perhaps an epi-pen on hand is necessary. EMT & Emergency First Responders are here so I’ll sputter this out.
I apologize ahead of time.
My throat tightens as my pulse races, but here goes…Damn it, I have to thank DJT.
Holy F*ck Balls.
Seriously, stay with me. DJT succeeded in one thing: we–not just women–but WE THE PEOPLE–again not just the USA, we have all risen.
We are no longer sitting or relegating activism to our social media feeds in the form of hashtags or banners/filters on our profile pics . DJT has forced us into finally remembering that activism requires activity.
I remember the words of my Grandma when I first wrote about the importance of voting. I was 18 and getting published in our local paper; an editorial I had written for school was submitted by a teacher because she felt my voice mattered. I can see my grandmother with a can of Budweiser in one hand and a kebab in the other as she enthusiastically reminded me that SHE didn’t have a choice. Amused and also afraid that she’d poke me with the sharp end of the kebab stick, her passion and pride shaped every fiber of who I am.
My heritage was never lost and she sure as hell wasn’t going to let me forget why.
She didn’t have the rights I did.
She was serious. That kebab and can of Bud infused that moment with so much nostalgia it became our tradition to drink a beer and watch debates with hummus and kebabs.
She wasn’t going to let it go. She had a point. She didn’t have the same rights some want to take from us and if I wanted to keep them or decide for myself I had to remember that every day would be a fight. Every win a gift.
I hate beer but I’d sneak a sip thinking I was clever asking her what she wished she’d fought for. Only then did her her tone grow somber. She said one word: Hitler.
She slammed her beer and ensued into prayer. After her Amen, a plethora of curse words that still make me blush came out like heat-seeking missiles. She shook her head and said, “We didn’t believe it. We thought it couldn’t happen. Then we saw. People started getting put on lists. We had to lie. We had no hope. If I was an American, not an Arab in Lebanon, I would have marched till my feet bled. I’m sorry I couldn’t.”
Cracking her second can of beer she continued: “You, you will not be lazy. You won’t forget all those families. You won’t forget the nations that came before you. You are an American. You are a woman. You are human. Don’t ever forget your heart. It’s the same heart. They bleed, you bleed!”
Mesmerized by her passion and unwavering strength of conviction I knew her words were intended to make a lasting impression. As she continued I realized she wanted to ensure that our tragedies didn’t have to repeat. We could learn from our past. We had that power. Her words stuck with me. I wrote down each word translating from Arabic to English.
“You don’t just watch. You move. You change. You fight. Soldiers fight wars. You support them by fighting for what’s right. You serve the world.”
On this Memorial Day remember what matters. Don’t forget the sacrifice. Don’t forget to stand together.
To all those who fought the good fight remember, an immigrant from Lebanon and devout Muslim wanted to ensure that I lived my life not guided by faith. She wanted me to trust my heart. Follow it. Have convictions while being aware that no action would make me complicit.
From my heart to yours, I stand with you. I applaud your courage, sacrifice and find hope for better days to come.
All my love.