Muslims Join Hometown Heroes Celebration on 9/11 Anniversary at State Capitol
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Members of the Sacramento Muslim community battled sweltering heat on 9/11/2015 along with thousands of their fellow Americans to celebrate three area heroes who with the help of two others, prevented a possible terror attack on a high-speed train from Amsterdam en route to Paris, France just a few weeks ago.
Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone all with ties to California’s Capital City showed great courage while subduing an attacker on August 21 st preventing what could have been a massacre. For their bravery they have already been awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award.
The event saw Sacramento at its best. It must have been really uplifting for this trio of heroes to be cheered on by a huge crowd in their town during a parade that took quite a while to travel a short distance of a few blocks. They were greeted by hundreds of American flags (Stars and Stripes of various sizes including a huge Old Glory hoisted by two cranes), cheering men, women, and children, members of various area organizations including American Muslim Voice (AMV) Foundation, CAIR-Sacramento and various groups including Christians, Jews, Arabs, Persians, Asians, Hispanics, Indians, Pakistani-Americans and motorcycle clubs. Now that is diversity!
After that dark day of 9/11/2001 we have had little to cheer about. The world has changed, and it has not been for the better as long wars, refugees and suffering have become a reality. Muslim Americans were hoping for a quick closure when Osama bin Laden was finally eliminated. But hate crimes against Muslims and people who appear “to look like them,” especially Sikhs, continue. Civil Rights protection groups such as CAIR have had to work very hard. And groups like AMV are advocating for increased visibility to show neighbors who Muslims really are (doctors, engineers, businessmen and businesswomen, taxi cab drivers and many more). But the going has not been easy.
That is one reason why this event was a welcome change for all of us. This time, terror had been prevented. It was a time to stand together on the human level as the significance of the 9/11 date made it even more important. Dubbed the “Sacramento Hometown Heroes” parade, it gave all of us including hundreds of area State workers the opportunity to celebrate and show pride by waving the flag and “Sacramento Proud” signs. The three heroes were greeted enthusiastically with music, confetti, Sacramento Kings basketball players and members of the Sacramento Republic FC soccer team.
Pakistan’s very own Kaleemullah Khan was seen greeting the crowd from the top of one vehicle. One Pakistani lady shouted his name and he threw a soccer ball in her direction. Yes, Muslims are soccer players too. And Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (KJ of NBA basketball fame) was right when during his speech he said that that we could not be prouder as a city than we are right now.
To close here, the inspiration from this short report also came from another place, New York. A report was received that Muslim- Pakistani-American, New York Police Department Cadet, Salman Hamdani, who died trying to save lives at the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 was honored by the city by having a street named after him. After many years (he may have at one time even be thought of as a possible suspect), his mother Talat Hamdani’s long struggle has come to an end. One day we can all visit “Salman Hamdani Way” in Bayside, Queens and remember a true Shaheed (Martyr) .