Arab Americans have been an integral part of the United States of America since its inception, contributing in a myriad of ways, including public service. Patriots & Peacemakers: Arab Americans in Service to Our Country is an exhibition, which tells true stories of heroism and self-sacrifice, that reaffirms the important role which Arab Americans have played throughout US history.
Patriots & Peacemakers highlights three specific areas of service: the U.S. Armed Forces, diplomatic service and the Peace Corps.The exhibition also encourages visitors to consider how commitment to service impacts them in their daily lives. The exhibition was created to honour Arab Americans who have served in the U.S. and reflects on their contributions.
The exhibition is the fruit of four years of research; where hundreds of interviews were conducted across the country. The men and women whose stories are told are representative of the thousands of Arab Americans who have served with dignity, loyalty and sacrifice. The exhibition was also designed to consider those who have served the U.S. in any capacity, and to inspire individuals to get involved in any form of community service.
A 1924 study by Princeton professor Philip Hitti, found that 13,965 Arab Americans served in World War I. Most of these soldiers were from what was then called Greater Syria. Hitti claimed that a higher percentage of Syrians served in WWI than any other ethnic community in the U.S. Many scholars state that around 15,000 Arab Americans served in World War II.
According to the Association for Patriotic Arab Americans in the Military, there are around 3,500 Arab Americans in the military today.
Patriots & Peacemakers has been put together by The Arab American National Museum, the first museum in the world devoted to Arab American history and culture. By bringing the voices and faces of Arab Americans to mainstream audiences, they continue to dispel misconceptions about Arab Americans and other minorities.
A companion exhibition, Fighting for Democracy: Who is the “We” in “We, the People”?, also highlights the stories of seven diverse individuals, their service to their country during World War II and their civic engagements that helped to change America for the betterment of all.
This exhibition uses World War II as a case study to begin a discussion about how women and minorities have expanded the meaning of “we”, in “we the people.” It looks at the experiences of seven individuals and traces their stories throughout the pre-war, war, and post-war periods, as examples of the millions whose lives were affected.
Both exhibitions are free with admission to The Arab American National Museum and are on display through to June 10th, 2012. You can also download and print the Patriots & Peacemakers brochure.