WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2011 – President Barack Obama paid tribute to a fallen soldier during an iftar dinner at the White House last night as an example of contributions Muslim-Americans have made to America’s diversity and freedoms.
Recognizing the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, Obama noted the diverse backgrounds of Americans – including Muslim-Americans — who suffered during the attacks, rushed to their aid as first responders and continue to serve in harm’s way protecting American freedoms.
“During 10 hard years of war, our troops have served with excellence and with honor,” he said, with some making the ultimate sacrifice for the United States.
Among them was 20-year-old Army Spc. Kareem Rashad Sultan Kahn, a member of 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash. Khan was among four U.S. soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Baqouba, Iraq, on Aug. 6, 2007.
“Galvanized by 9/11 to serve his country, he gave his life in Iraq and now rests with his fellow heroes at Arlington,” the president said. A Muslim crescent marks Kahn’s grave, just as crosses and stars mark the graves of fallen Christian and Jewish heroes.
“Like Kareem, this generation has earned its place in history,” Obama said last night. He asked all servicemembers at the iftar celebration to stand to accept their fellow guests’ applause.
“This year and every year, we must ask ourselves: How do we honor these patriots –those who died and those who served?” the president said. “In this season of remembrance, the answer is the same as it was 10 years ago. We must be the America they lived for and the America they died for –the America they sacrificed for.”
That, he explained, is an accepting America that stays true to its core values and recognizes its diversity as its strength. It’s also a nation that “stands up for dignity and the rights of people around the world, whether a young person demanding his or her freedom in the Middle East or North Africa, or a hungry child in the Horn of Africa, where we are working to save lives,” he said.
Obama called the iftar “part of a rich tradition here at the White House of celebrating the holy days of the many faiths and the diversity that define us as a nation.”
An iftar is a meal served at the day’s end during Ramadan, which began Aug. 1 this year and continues through Aug. 29.
Ramadan is the Islamic faith’s holiest time and commemorates the revelation of the Quran to the prophet Muhammad. Through fasting, prayer and worship, Muslims reflect on their spiritual lives and their dependence on God as they strengthen family and community ties.