Just this past Saturday, the Republican Party of Virginia held its State Convention to nominate its candidates for the 2009 Virginia Gubernatorial race. During the convention, the party delegates heard from all of its candidates, shinning among them their candidate for Governor, Bob McDonnell. There was even an appearance made by Sean Hannity. Later in the day with all of the heavy hitters having already gone, many former political figures filled stage time as the votes were being counted. Some delegates listened while others enjoyed conversation among themselves. That all changed when a young man named Adnan Barqawi walked out on the stage. A recent graduate and outgoing commander of the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech, Adnan’s cadet’s uniform was immaculate and his voice strong. With the audience still dividing its attention, he began to tell his story.
Almost four years ago, Adnan came to America from Kuwait. Adnan recalled how the Corps of Cadets enabled him to overcome the difference in culture and become a leader at his school. By the time he had begun to talk about the values of personal responsibility and leadership, he had the audience riveted to his every word. Telling the audience how he had just become an American citizen, he delivered this unforgettable line:
“I do not call myself an Arab-American, or a Middle Eastern-American, but an American. Some Americans need hyphens in their names because only part of them has come over. But when the whole man has come over, heart and thought and all, the hyphen drops of its own weight.”
He went on to affirm the values that made America great. The audience by this point was going crazy. I and other walked away amazed and inspired. A young man who had not even been an American citizen for four months, understood America better than most native born Americans. He in his own unique way, had been more like Reagan in 16 minutes than all of the Republican presidential candidates of 2008 combined.
Thankfully, his words were not lost to time and space. Below in two parts is his address to the audience. If you have time to only listen to one, start at part two. But please do yourself justice and listen to both, you will not regret it.