His name is Mohammed and this was his first trip overseas as a contractor for the U.S. Army. We were working a training exercise with coalition partners. He was one of our interpreters. In fifteen minutes he taught me a lesson in gratitude.
Mohammed came from Sudan to the U.S. in 2005 via Europe. At first, he settled in Chicago… in the winter. Needless to say, the cold climate added to the culture shock. His caseworker said he could request a location change. Southern Texas is now his home and he loves it, heat and all.
I asked Mohammad if he was enjoying his work and he enthusiastically said, “Yes! I am very excited to work here.” Here’s why:
- He wanted to give back to America, the “land of opportunity.” He loves Texas and the United States. He wants to deploy again overseas to do his part, to give thanks for his new home. He’s an American citizen now.
- “What was your profession in Sudan?” I asked. “Sir, I was a journalist. I wrote about politics and the government, and they didn’t like that.” If you don’t know it now, being a journalist is one of the most dangerous professions in the world.
- He is able to provide for his family in peace, without fear.
- He is so grateful to his new country, he wants his daughter to join the Army when she grows up.
Four simple points of gratitude out of a 15-minute discussion on how Mohammed got to America. My heart was lifted by his genuine appreciation for his new country. He is American to the core.
That is what makes America great.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on February 23, 2019.
Marshall McGurk served nearly five years with the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) after a stint with the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized). He enjoys scotch, cigars, good books, foreign films, and critical thinking. He is passionate about international relations, domestic affairs, and successful veteran transition. He serves in the Army Reserve. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.