Last night was an emotional one at the White House as President Obama hosted the annual Ramadan Iftar dinner.
While taking time out to celebrating the Muslim holy month, the President also used the occasion to remember the Muslim Americans who died on 9/11 and those Muslim American servicemen and women who died in the two wars that followed the worst attacks on this nation’s soil.
“Muslim Americans were [the] first responders … the EMTs … the nurse who tended to so many victims, the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety.”
The President also paid tribute to the, “brave service of our men and women in uniform, including thousands of Muslim Americans … [and] some [who] have made the ultimate sacrifice.
He went on to address the mother of Army Specialist Kareem Khan, who was killed in Iraq, saying:
“We must be the America they lived for, and the America they died for.”
Khan’s mother (pictured above) stood and said thank you to the President, wiping the tears from her face.
Members from various faith communities were in attendance last night including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Min.) who is the first African-American Muslim congressman and member of the Congregressional Black Caucus. The annual dinner is a relatively new Washington tradition. Started by President Bill Clinton, the dinners continued through George W. Bush’s presidency. This year’s dinner marks the third President Obama has hosted at the White House.
In his remarks the President noted the ten year anniversary of the September 11th attacks saying:
“This year and every year, we must ask ourselves: How do we honor these patriots — those who died and those who served? In this season of remembrance, the answer is the same as it was 10 Septembers ago: We must be the America they lived for and the America they died for, the America they sacrificed for. … An America that doesn’t simply tolerate people of different backgrounds and beliefs, but an America where we are enriched by our diversity. An America where we treat one another with respect and with dignity. Put simply, we must be the America that goes forward as one family, like generations before us, pulling together in times of trial, staying true to our core values and emerging even stronger. This is who we are and this is who we must always be.”
You can see the President’s emotional message from last night in the video below: