It is with heavy hearts that we learn of the death of four U.S Marines at the hand of one Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S citizen, born in Kuwait. Abdulazeez arrived, armed to the teeth with ammunition and three firearms, at a military recruitment office in Chattanooga, Tenn. on the morning of July 16. There, the gunman opened fire, spraying several rounds of ammunition before continuing his spree at a Naval reserve center where he killed four Marines and then he, too, lost his life.
Muhammad Abdulazeez was known as an all-American boy growing up, who developed a passion for mixed martial arts and the Muslim faith. He grew up in small-town Hixon, Tenn. with his close-knit family. He attended Red Bank High School where he flourished on the wrestling team; and he graduated from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with an engineering degree.
Abdulazeez took a trip to Jordan in the summer of 2014. Officials aren’t sure just what happened during Abdulazeez’s time overseas, but long time friend, Abdulrazzak Brizada, seems convinced that something did when he tells CNN, "Something happened over there, he never became close to me like he was before he went overseas... I'm sure he had something that happened to him overseas." What ever did inspire Abdulazeez’s spree, it has come at a high cost for the U.S: the lives of four American heroes.
I don’t understand. I can’t comprehend. I cannot fathom what has motivated you to brutally murder so many. I do not know how one can harbor so much hatred in their hearts as to take the lives of whomever their bullets may strike, how you can disregard the parents, spouses, children, friends, and families of four individuals, how you can attack the soil on which you have spent your life, the country in which you have made your living. I do not understand. But I don’t have to, because I have a God who does. I’m taking one from the families of the fallen of both Chattanooga and Charleston, S.C. I am extending forgiveness. I am extending grace. I am extending faith in the One who knows. And it is much easier for me than it is for the families of those who have lost their lives to you, Mr. Abdulazeez. Life doesn’t have to be “bitter and short,” and I’m so sorry that you thought it did.
So, my fellow Americans, what do we do now? How do we send our children, siblings, parents, spouses into harm’s way, which now seems to include strip malls and recruitment offices? Where are we safe? In a time where the answer seems to be nowhere, we can only turn to God. Living less than three hours from the crime scene and watching my older brother prepare to pursue a career similar to that of our fallen heroes is a very scary thing. But I can only pray for his safety, and trust that God knows much more than I do. That’s all I ask of you, America. Leave behind your hate crimes and riots, put down your weapons long enough to say a prayer for our home, because without our brave, we won’t be the “Land of the Free” much longer.