For Azeem Every Day is Thanksgiving Day
In 2007 a taxi driver named Azeem changed my life.
He expressed what we too often take for granted.
His words impact me today as they resounded then.
I know where Azeem is today.
It’s the same place he is every day because…
For Azeem, every day is Thanksgiving Day.
Let me know if his words resonate with you as they did me.
Originally posted November 22, 2007.
When the taxi came this past Monday, I had no clue my 30-minute ride to the airport would impact me forever. I enjoy talking to taxi drivers, but I had no idea this guy was going to bring me to tears.
Azeem is from Afghanistan. He came to America 11 years ago. I asked him why he came here, he said because America is the greatest country in the world. If you want freedom, you come to America.
“Here, you can live anywhere, you can attend college, you can educate yourself, you can learn anything you want to learn. You can better yourself. You can take the right road any and everything is here for you. Or, you can take the wrong road. It’s up to you. You have choice. In my country, we have very little choice. I love America. It’s the greatest country in the world.”
He said his country has been violent for decades. There is no peace there, always somebody fighting somebody.
“You fear for your safety, you fear for your children, you fear every day. America is a peaceful country. You can go anywhere and you don’t fear for your safety.”
When I asked him about America being in Afghanistan, he said, “The people of Afghanistan want democracy. We don’t want Khalizaid, because he is America’s man, and we don’t want the Taliban. We want a democratic leader.”
I asked if he and his family will stay in America.
“As long as I can make a living and support my family. If the economy stays good, we will live here forever. We love it here. This is our country now. My children are 17, 15, 13 and 11. They love it here. They would not want to live anywhere else.”
I asked him if he works overtime to support a family of six.
“Oh, no, never. I work my day and I go home. In my culture, family is most important. We stay close. We live close. My whole family lives on the same block. I spend all my extra time with my wife and children.. We eat dinner together almost every night. We speak to each other and share our day. I listen to my children, they can tell me anything. It’s most important to be with children, even as they get older. They need our time and attention.”
His voice trailed off, and Azeem turned to look at me in the mirror. Our eyes met, red and misty, tears streaming down our faces. We smiled, then turned to give each other a quiet moment.
In that mirror I saw a man puffed up proud to be a father, who loved and valued his wife and children more than his job, his money or his material wealth.
I saw a man so grateful and thankful to America for opening up her arms to take him and his family in, and give them the choice to make a new life. I saw a man who understands what’s valuable, what’s important and what matters most.
I saw me.
Azeem and I are brothers.
We love our family and we love our children.
We are proud of who we are and thankful for the life we have.
We want peace for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
As I give thanks today for the incredible people in my life and the bountiful blessings I have, I thank Azeem for reminding me to make every day, Thanksgiving Day.
Bless you and you family, Azeem.
Bless YOU and YOUR family.
Thank you for being in my life.
Happy Thanksgiving with love and gratitude,
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