I had the intention to serve couple of years and start studying at the Georgetown University. However, the terrorist attacks on September 11 changed my plans. Since the terrorists who executed the attack represented themselves as Muslims, I was afraid that Muslims will be demonized in the USA and I wanted to show that U.S. Muslims are not against the USA. That is when I decided to stay in the marine corps. This is the beginning of the story told by Emir Hadžić, Artillery Sergeant in the U.S. Marines, known as the Bosnian who wrote a letter to Barrack Obama. His emotional letter was published on the official website of the White House.
Hadžić emigrated from his hometown Srebrenica with his family in 1995. He came to San Jose, California, where he had an aunt. He stayed there for several years and one of the reasons why he joined the marines was the departure of the U.S. contingent to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. However, he did not manage to get any closer to his homeland.
“Ironically, despite my request to join the units that are being sent to BiH, I was positioned overseas, in the middle of the Pacific. After two missions, I obtained the position of a military instructor in officer school in Quantico, near Washington,” Hadžić says.
Washington D.C. is the home of Georgetown University, and just when Hadžić intended to bring together the business and education, September 11 happened.
“I wanted to show everyone that Muslims who live here love the United States that that we defend this country like every other citizen. America belongs to all those who love it and defend it. I could feel the war atmosphere and I decided to stay in the marines and contribute in any way. I had experience from the war in BiH, from the difficulties that the civilians experienced in the Middle East and Southwestern Asia,” Hadžić said.
The desire to prove that Muslims are not terrorists kept him in the marines for more than twenty years. After eight missions, he decided to retire and go back to civil life. His retirement request was approved in July. Then he started feeling melancholy, because he spend almost half of his life serving in the army. Instead of the standard retirement ceremony, he decided to outpace the President Obama.
“Soldiers receive a letter of gratitude from President Obama, but I wanted to outpace him. I wanted to address him and share my opinions with him. I sent a letter in which I stated how fulfilled and grateful I am for the opportunity I have been given. The White House staff thanked me for the pleasant and encouraging words and invited me to attend the panel on reception and integration of refugees in the USA,” Hadžić said.