Christmas is a time of love and togetherness; and this reminder of the importance of those values couldn’t come at a more opportune time. During these times of fear and contempt, it’s vital that we look past the political maneuvering and the vitriol and rediscover the unity that truly makes America great, every single day. A heartwarming story began making the rounds a few days ago, and it’s important that everyone hears this important message.
Sofia Yassini is eight years old. She watched Donald Trump give interviews on television, where he said he would institute mass deportations, a deportation police, and close our borders to all Muslims. Being very young and a Muslim, she became terrified that the army was coming to take her away – to the point where she began carrying around a bag of her most treasured belongings in the event that deportation came. It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear, and her mother vented her frustrations on Facebook in a post that eventually went viral:
Her post was noticed by Army veteran Kerri Peek, who was rightfully appalled that a child could feel that way about the United States armed forces. “It bothered me all night. Stuck in my craw, so to speak. This rhetoric and fear, hate, and violence is not okay. It’s not the United States that I would fight for. I was awake all night.” She sent back a beautiful reply, assuring the child that Peek and her comrades would keep her safe:
Not content with just that message, she put out a call to all American veterans to show their support: “Post a picture of you in uniform with the hashtag #iwillprotectyou to let these children know that we will not hurt them. That they are safe here in America. That we will protect innocents as we always have and by added benefit keeping our oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution.”
The response has been overwhelming. Hundreds of veterans have replied with their pictures and messages of support, pledging to “defend her till their dying breaths,” proving to Sofia, to Trump, and to the rest of our nation who the real Americans are and what real American values are.
Melissa and Sofia have been blown away by the response:
“I have probably received close to 500 messages from various people in our military, from just people. Christians, atheists, Jews, every walk of life, every stage, have reached out to Sofia and I with overwhelming support and love.”
It’s a beautiful story that will hopefully help restore some faith in our fellow men and women. It’s also the latest in a string of incidents that shows our military men and women reject Trump and his anti-American racism and do not look forward to having to serve under a Trump presidency.
We applaud Ms. Peek for her actions and wish to assure little Sofia that she has just as much of a right to live here as anyone else does. The sacred protections and freedoms upon which our nation was founded are under attack by rabid demagogues like Donald Trump; we must not allow nationalist bigotry and the cowardice of the fearful and the stupid take those freedoms away. “I would not fight for a United States that would hurt people for their religion,” concluded Ms. Peek. “This is un-American. This isn’t how we do things.”
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.