Kamel Elwazeir was one of our featured speakers at our Creating Community Breakfast 2016. With his permission, we present his moving speech below:
My name is Kamel Elwazeir, I was born and raised in Qatar to a Palestinian family of refugees, not only by name but also in every single aspect of our lives starting with the words “Palestinian Refugees” stamped on our Egyptian Issued Travel document, a document that I have the worst childhood memories of, a document that thought me as a kid that I don’t belong to any country, not even Egypt the issuing country of that document, and that was the hardest thing on me as a kid. But now, 40 years later, I can say and say it loud that I’m proud to call myself an American and belong to the greatest country in the world.
My dream since I was a little boy was to visit the United States of America. That dream came true in 1999 when I was accepted into a local University here in Colorado Springs. I was given the opportunity that many others would dream of. Upon my arrival I felt that I was welcomed by everyone I encountered. I was blessed to earn a Master’s degree and get a decent job, as well as owning few business ventures, get married, have kids, own a home, have neighbors and make friends, attend the mosque and visit local churches to build bridges between communities, all of this by the grace of God the Creator and the Sustainer.
It’s hard for me not fall in love with a city like our city and with the people who welcomed me, they allowed and accepted me in, and enabled me to be part of this society, and didn’t say no to me because of being different. I have always felt that I have duties towards my new home, my new country and now that I am an American Citizen I feel that my duties and responsibilities have become more rewarding.
I’ve chosen our city to be the place where I want to raise a family, and teach my children how blessed they are to be born, raised and live in freedom.
What makes Colorado beautiful is not only the mountains, and the clear skies for the most part, it’s the people that I meet, and the people I’ve been around.
People ask me how do you feel living in a conservative city? I truly appreciate living with American values, to believe and practice, learn and teach my kids the values that this country stands for and was built on, like equality, diversity, and separation of church and state.
Freedom is not just a slogan written on New Hampshire’s license plate (Live Free or Die) it’s a principal, it’s part of God’s gift to all of us, it’s the result of passionate hard working men and women, and it’s part of our great constitution.
Our nation is known to stand up for justice and extends their hand to help those in need regardless of their skin color, religion or where they come from.
Our nation has sent its most valuable assets “it’s people” thousands of miles to bring justice to others, so imagine when our men and women in uniform are approached by those in need for help? Their first instinct is to help.
If we can easily send our troops, humanitarian aid workers and many others into danger zones to help all those abroad who need help, what difference would it be to open our arms to a few families who truly just want to escape the brutal oppression of their dictator regimes, and find a place to live in peace, without the fear of a bomb exploding, or a bullet taking the life of a loved one.
As the leading nation of the world we are expected to protect ourselves first but are morally responsible to open our doors and welcome these families who are looking for nothing more than an opportunity for freedom and to live in peace.
Each of you stand to represent the voices of the citizens of Colorado Springs, I urge you all to think of the lives and futures that we will positively impact when we open our city to those who simply want to call America home and more specifically Colorado Springs.