As the 26th Chief of the National Guard Bureau, I attend many ceremonies and cultural events. Last week, I hosted a gathering at my home that was certainly unique to me in my lifetime, yet as natural for me as any gathering of family and friends.
The uniqueness of this event emanates from its rich origin. I hosted 60 members and leaders of the Muslim community and some members of the National Guard at an Iftar dinner.
Some people might ask, “Why host such an event?” Well, for me, there are obvious and rewarding reasons.
Through our State Partnership Program, the National Guard is a familiar face to many Muslim nations and leaders. We have 14 State Partnerships with Muslim countries or Muslim majority countries. Hosting an Iftar, it seemed to me, was an opportunity to reinforce with some of the National Guard’s senior leaders the importance of engagement with Muslim communities.
Also, today we have National Guard troops deployed in Kosovo, the Sinai Desert, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iftar was a way to express how highly we regard and value our relationships and friendships with our Muslim partners, which are grounded in mutual interests and respect.
Taking part in the Iftar reminded me, indeed reminded everyone who attended, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, that we are all part of a larger family; that we are all deserving of each other’s respect and that we are all worthy to live free of tyranny and oppression in a just and peaceful world.