I grew up in Texas and was in high school when 9/11 happened. I guess I've always been a bit of an idealist, thinking that people were good and kind. That day, I think a little bit of anger started to form in me.
I joined the Marines out of high school. I went to war. I voted to re-elect President Bush so he could "finish what he started." That little bit of anger that started on 9/11 was a part of me now, and I wanted someone or something to pay.
Mr. Trump is one man with his views. I'm more concerned about his many supporters who have helped pave the way to his rise, particularly those who take his view of the world to the extreme.
My parents were both Vietnamese refugees who came to the United States, worked honest jobs and raised two successful daughters. They took us to Disneyland and beach vacations during the summers, taught us to work hard, cultivated in us a love of the arts, and never let us forget how they were so happy to be "living the American dream.”
I was the child of refugees who were welcomed into this country and then the country was attacked. I wanted to do something. A lot of people in the United States felt this way at the time.
This feeling persisted through most of my deployment. What changed my mind and eased this anger was my job in the Marines and my role while I was deployed. I was in the intelligence field and learned that the Iraqi people were being terrorized and intimidated by the extremist groups.
All of the bad things that seemed to be so big were caused by a small minority of people. Most people just wanted to live their lives peacefully.
The images I've seen of hate in Donald Trump’s name, or in the name of his viewpoints, are images I thought we had moved past as a nation.
I went on a mission where we handed out medicine, water, and ice to some locals who lived near our base. Two older women asked us to bring them something next time we were in the area. They ran their hands through their hair, which they had let down once we were out of sight of the male Marines, and mimed "lathering." They were asking for shampoo. That was when I realized we were more alike than I had ever thought. Then they sat us down, poured us tea and handed us some freshly made bread. We were all in this together.
It's so upsetting to hear the xenophobic rhetoric coming from Mr. Trump's camp regarding refugees today. As a leader, he stokes the fires of fear, instead of urging all of us to believe in the good of people.