Inspired by their shared tragic experience, two fathers have forged an unlikely partnership to spread awareness of the growing number of Islamic homegrown terrorists in the U.S. and of the government’s refusal to identify the violent acts of these individuals as acts of terror.
On June 1, 2009, outside a military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas, 23-year-old Army Pvt. William “Andy” Long was shot and killed, and 18-year-old Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula was wounded by self-proclaimed jihadist Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe. In an AP interview, Muhammad claimed that his act was not murder because his act was justified, and even that it displayed “common sense.” He related that “U.S. soldiers kill innocent Muslim men and women” and that Muslims need to “strike back.”
Andy’s father, Daris Long and the father of the shooter, Melvin Bledsoe, met in the aftermath of this event under the most grievous of conditions. Even so, they have since formed a friendship and mutual mission to find closure in their shared tragedy by spreading awareness among Americans of the realities of their ordeal, and by demanding that their government identify this tragedy as what it is: a domestic act of Islamic terror.
In an issued statement concerning the death of Andy Long and wounding of Quinton Ezeagwula, the U.S. Army held that there was insufficient evidence to justify their entitlement to Purple Heart awards. This statement seems curious, considering that Army Purple Heart Regulations state that “…each approved award of the Purple Heart must exhibit all of the following factors: wound, injury, or death must have been the result of enemy or hostile act, international terrorist attack, or friendly fire.” This tragedy seems to more than qualify a fallen or injured soldier for this award, and even more so when it is taken into account that Muhammad (Bledsoe) committed his violent act after an extended stay and conversion to Islam in Yemen, a country that known terroristic conspirators and masterminds have called home for years.
Daris Long and Melvin Bledsoe have personally petitioned Congress and the Obama Administration in a public House hearing, demanding that this violent act be officially acknowledged as an Islamic act of terror, and that the fallen and injured soldiers be awarded Purple Hearts. Attorney General Eric Holder, when pressed by Long, refused to admit that this incident was an act of Islamic terror. He stated that he didn’t want to “speak negatively about a religion.” Others of the liberal set of Democrat congressmen seemed to echo his sentiments with politically correct statements of “perspective” and “tolerance.” One of these congressmen even asked Bledsoe if he would describe this incident as “interesting.” In response, Bledsoe differed in saying that this incident was rather “a tragedy.” The majority of congress, however, came together on the Purple Heart issue, among others concerning this incident, in bipartisan agreement. In the days after this hearing, especially in response to Daris’ testimony, Congress authorized a provision to the 2012 Defense Authorization Bill, ordering the Army to award Andy and Quinton the Purple Heart.
The Obama Administration’s statements concerning this issue, following this provision, seem to provide some background for the Army’s stance on this issue, considering the fact that Obama is their commander in chief. Their initial statement related that this crime was tried as a violation of the criminal code of the state of Arkansas, and that passing the bill could create appellate issues. Then, on May 15, 2012 the Obama Administration threatened to veto the bill because of several of its provisions, including the award of Purple Hearts to Andy and Quinton. We should also remember that the shooting at Fort Hood was a similar act of homegrown terrorism, and that those slain and injured in that massacre were also excluded from receiving Purple Heart awards.
Daris Long and Melvin Bledsoe have shown grace and perseverance that serves as an example to us all. They have shown mutual concern and understanding toward each other and toward the nation and have not given up their fight for justice and awareness over the last three years. They have now co-authored a book titled Losing Our Sons and have a website of the same name, Losing Our Sons.com, where their full story can be seen. This website also features a petition available to allow concerned citizens to join their cause.
Presently, there should be no doubt among Americans that the great majority of those who wear the uniforms of our armed forces take their oath to protect us against all enemies, foreign and domestic, very seriously. They are among the most honorable in this country and have proven themselves and their loyalty to this purpose time and time again. There should also be no doubt that there is now a very real threat to the lives, safety, and freedoms of all Americans in the name of Islamist jihad. As American citizens, we should acknowledge these realities and speak and act accordingly. Our government should also acknowledge these realities, speak and act accordingly, and fittingly honor those most honorable in their employment who give their lives as they bravely serve their country.
Photo credit: TexasEagle (Creative Commons)