I took the 10:55 train to New York Penn Station, decked out in a green button-down shirt over a green undershirt. But I had no intention of walking into a pub for St. Patrick’s Day this year. I was wearing green for another reason: solidarity.
Dozens of Syrian men, women, and children met in front of the U.N. to commemorate the 2nd year since the revolution to free Syria started back in March 15th, 2011. Despite the cold weather and the inevitable overshadowing from the 2013 Half-Marathon falling on the same day, demonstrators delivered passioned speeches in response to the continued violence in Syria.
“We Want Freedom” echoed through the street, tears spilled onto the pavement, the beat of a Doumbek drum gave the chants backbone and power, chants broke out into dance…The feeling was penetrating, contagious. I felt like I was Syrian.
I admit I am ignorant to most of the happenings in Syria and was only aware of the bits and pieces major news sources had provided about the civil war, which are scarce.
As the organizer began to settle the crowd for a moment of silence for the fallen, the mood shifted. Everyone lifted their heads to the sight of a young man walking through the crowd with a young woman.
The reason I came out today: to witness my friend Hamid’s engagement. He made his way to the front of the crowd and wasted no time in projecting the emotions of the people. I don’t understand Arabic, but by the reaction of the crowd, I can surmise that his words touched many hearts in a deep way.
The fact that he chose this event to declare his love and marriage to the world, to me, speaks of a selfless love for his country. I’m proud to call him a friend.
As I stood back and briefly became part of something bigger than myself, things came into perspective. Most of the demonstrators at the rally have been away from home for years, others were U.S. born with family in Syria.
Still, there were some who had no real ties to Syria.
Thousands of miles away seems so far if you have no connections, no bonds, no ties. Things are easy to avoid when they’re not in front of you. Thousands of miles of way, there are people like you and I who want the same thing. They want to feel safe, to raise their children, to be free; Why should kilometers separate our ties with other human beings? Whether Syrian, American, or whichever nationality we claim, we are all human beings.