As we celebrate Independence Day, I wanted to share this inspiring example of Americans coming together to honor our country’s founding values by welcoming refugees.
“As veterans, we aren’t in the habit of waiting for someone else to get the job done,” says Matthew Lester, one of the leaders of the New York Chapter of Veterans for American Ideals, a nonpartisan group that supports the Special Immigrant Visa program for nationals of Iraq and Afghanistan who helped U.S. troops and are no longer safe in their home countries.
“When we see someone who has put it all on the line for our country, we want to do everything we can to help them.”
After hearing that synagogue volunteers were collecting donations to furnish the home of a recently arrived HIAS New York client, Lester knew his group had to get involved.
Together, this unlikely collaboration between U.S. veterans and Jewish New Yorkers made a much appreciated delivery of household items to a recently arrived family from Afghanistan.
Why? As Lester put it, “if there’s one aspect of American history that I think is undeniable, it’s that our country’s founders intended for the U.S. to be a place to which oppressed people could come to build a new life in a free country.”