Recognition For Arab American Veterans in Dearborn Michigan
By: Yaara Aleissa / Arab America Contributing Writer
Memorial Day in Dearborn
This past Memorial Day, Arab American veterans in Dearborn, Michigan received recognition in the 97th annual Memorial Day parade. This parade, hosted in partnership with the Dearborn Allied War Veterans Council, is one of the largest in the country. It honors current veterans and those who lost their lives while serving the country.
The significance of this year’s parade is that an Arab American served as the Grand Marshal for the parade. The Grand Marshal receives the honor as the public leader for the event, in this case, the Memorial Day parade. Dearborn native and United States Air Force Captain Maysaa M. Ouza served as the Grand Marshal for the parade this past Monday.
Captain Maysaa M. Ouza
Captain Ouza’s family immigrated from Lebanon in the early ’80s. She graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2013. Then from the University of Toledo College of Law-Ohio in 2017. She gained admission to practice law that same year. Her work has focussed on victims of crimes in administrative and civil legal matters as well as military courts-marital. Another work Captain Ouza takes part in is providing a range of community outreach. Through comprehensive sexual assault response in alignment with the Family Advocacy and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Programs.
The significance of Captain Ouza’s legacy is her push for the Air Force to reconsider its nationwide policy regarding religious accommodations. She has petitioned for expanding opportunities to serve future generations. This comes from Captain Ouza’s own practices as a Muslim and she represents this through her hijab. Her push led to a change in the United States Air Force policy, allowing her to be the first Air Force JAG Corps officer to wear the hijab while in uniform.
The presence of Captain Ouza serving as Grand Marshal showcases not only to the citizens of Dearborn but the entire country the presence of Arab Americans and Muslims. Frequently, these two groups, Arab and Muslim, have been isolated when it comes to defining their status as “American”.
Arab American Veteran Recognition
The need for recognition is still incredibly important. Being able to see someone and what they have accomplished and know that they share the same religious or cultural background is inspiring to younger generations. In this case, Captain Ouza ties together all three: Muslim, Arab, and American.
This is exactly what Captain Ouza expressed when asked about her role in the parade “This is a time to honor our fallen veterans and reflects on the ultimate sacrifice they made for our nation. We also acknowledge that our veteran community represents the many identities that make up this country’s fabric”.
Furthermore, the recognition of Arab Americans was pointed out by Dearborn Allied War Veterans Commander Scott Rumfield. In his speech referencing recognition of the service of Arab Americans, he said: “We’d also like to recognize the long and proud history of those Arab Americans who served in the United States armed forces dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War”.
The history of Arab Americans’ presence in supporting the United States armed forces is rich and deserves proper recognition. As does the remaining counterparts that make up the diverse nation and its diverse veterans with the duty of upholding the values of the country.
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