It’s gratifying to see many support Yemeni-Americans

The comments that followed a local news segment titled, “Yemeni flags spark controversy” was a painful read for many Yemenis and non-Yemenis alike. Western New Yorkers expressed disapproval to downright scorn toward Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski for putting up Yemeni flags in Lackawanna, but he did not back down from such ridicule. It is indeed a tragedy that any race, culture or religious group should have to endure this type of contempt.

Nevertheless, I am not writing to contest people’s reactions to the whole ordeal. I want to express my gratitude to the men and women who stood up for our community. Many non-Yemenis defended and applauded the celebration of our holiday with our flags. When we stand together despite our differences, we represent the essence of the United States of America.

The large Yemeni-American community has been in Lackawanna for over 50 years. Our parents arrived under the mother of exiles, seeking the American dream and working in the local steel mills. After the mills closed, Yemenis went back to their roots of being merchants and traders and opened up small shops. My generation continually represents all walks of life. Joining the single mothers’ lifestyle of our country, I work hard to raise my two sons. In 1976, my brother was born in Mercy Hospital, and then passed away in Mercy Hospital in 2005. Although we are an American subculture, we share similar tragedies and triumphs. And comparable to other subgroups, we will always have an undying pride of our heritage: Yemeni-American.

Mona Abdulla