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My Heroes: A Libyan Story

Bismillah

Now I understand. As I see waves of protesters breaking the muzzle of fear Gaddafi has put on the people for 42 years, now I understand. As I see young men and women sacrificing their lives to give other people a fighting chance to live a dignified existence, now I understand. As I see solidarity from all over the world calling out to Gaddafi with one voice: “Enough!” now I understand.

These events have affected me deeply, and have made me thankful to my people for their struggle. My heart swells with honor for them. My heart swells for the sacrifices of Umar al-Mukhtar and the true mujahideen today who have dignified our Libyan existence, giving up their lives to Allah so others could be free. My heart swells at their firm resolve and their every call of, "La ilaha illa Allah!"

But my heart swells the most for my parents. My heart swells for every gray hair that has set itself upon their noble heads. My heart swells for every heartache and tear that has flown from their eyes. My parents who have sacrificed their lives fighting against the oppression of Gaddafi. Who have given up home and family to stand up for their principles. My parents who lived everyday with hope that they could one day return to a free Libya. 

I never understood their struggle. I sometimes thought they were just holding on to the dreams of their youth, not living in reality. I would tell them, “Gaddafi has won. Let’s just accept that fact.” Several times I would even try to persuade my father to go back. “Just say a couple nice things about Gaddafi and we can go back.” He would look at me with a gaze with wrinkled eyes that had seen more than I could possibly imagine. It was a look of sad, but unshakable determination. Then, he would say, “I will not go back to Libya while Gaddafi is in power.”

I thought it was pride that stopped him. I thought it was some personal vendetta against Gaddafi. How wrong I was! My father gave up his entire world for Libya. In the years fighting against the monstrous regime he lost his father, his mother, his two brothers, and even his land. I would think to myself, “Why does he still care about Libya? Nothing’s even there for him.” I never understood why he fought so hard.

Now I understand.

Because it wasn’t about him. It wasn’t about his family. It wasn’t about his land. It was about Libya. I think back to his gaze. It was a gaze of someone who would stand by his principles at any cost. A gaze of someone who would never give way to oppression. A gaze of a warrior carrying many scars. A gaze of a man. A man I wish I could be even half of.

I remember the look on my mother’s face when I went to Libya for the first time. She said to me, “Take my heart with you.” She would pray night and day to return to her country and see her elderly parents again. She would write articles against Gaddafi and poetry about her love for Libya. She would post her writings, as many others of those in opposition to Gaddafi would, on a Libyan blog. I would think to myself, “What good is this ever going to do?” In a way, I felt sorry for her. That was then. Now, I am inspired by her undying hope. Her resolve to never give up. Her fight to the very end. She would fight for her people with whatever she had, even if it meant that she would never feel the sweet ocean breeze of Tripoli kiss her face again.

Now I understand.

So many times I did not understand that struggle of my parents. I did not understand their obsession with Libya’s politics. I did not respect their sacrifices. But now I understand. Now I understand that they would give every drop of blood in their bodies for the freedom and dignity of the Libyan people. My parents make my heart swell. In them, I see the dignity of my ancestors. In them, I see the courage of the youth supporting this new uprising. In them, I see the warrior saints. They are my heroes, and I am honored to be their son.

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