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    D.C. National Guardsman goes viral, uses his platform to enact change

    D.C. National Guardsman goes viral, uses his platform to enact change

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Anthony Small | Spc. Khaled Abdelghany, 273rd Military Police Company, District of Columbia National...... read more read more

    DC, UNITED STATES

    06.09.2020

    Story by Capt. Melissa Heintz 

    113th Wing D.C. Air National Guard

    A video of a D.C. National Guardsman went viral online when he was seen on video chanting “I’m black and I’m proud,” while supporting the civil unrest mission in Washington, D.C.

    Spc. Khaled Abdelghany is a member of the 273rd Military Police Company, D.C. National Guard. For his civilian job, he works at a hotel in Washington D.C. right across the street from the White House, where he manages valet service. On May 30, 2020, he found himself in a situation he had never been in before; back in the same neighborhood, just in a different uniform and in a different role.

    He was activated with the D.C. National Guard and was one of the soldiers who stood guard in front of the White House at Lafayette Square in Washington D.C. during protests in response to the death of George Floyd.

    Armed with only a shield and protective gear, and with orders to hold the line, he stood face to face with his community members during a painful moment in our nation’s history. He stood there with his shield low and ready, so that protesters could speak to him and express their pain.

    Abdelghany interacted with the protesters and let them know about the role of the D.C. National Guard, and that the Guard was there to keep the protesters safe, so they could peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights.

    “As a black African American member of the community, and also as a black African American member of the military, D.C. Guard, it has been like hard, heavy, especially with what’s been going on with George Floyd’s death on camera,” said Abdelghany. “It’s been hard for all of us. It’s not just me, there’s a lot of other of my peers that feel heavy, feel hurt, feel aching pain and they also want change. It’s just really hard to find a way to kind of deal with both given the fact that you’ve signed a contract with the military.”

    In times of conflict, he reminds himself to “follow what you believe in, follow your heart, and just try to do the right thing as much as possible.”

    During one of his shifts, he was captured on video chanting along with protesters, “I’m black and I’m proud,” which was soon shared online and, at the time of publishing, had received more than 15 million views on Twitter.

    “I felt that my heart was speaking out emotionally and it really just happened that way,” said Abdelghany about his reaction to seeing the video online. “It was in the moment, and I saw truth in everybody that was standing out there. And I understood exactly what they were going through.”

    Abdelghany joined the D.C. National Guard in 2015 to serve his community, take advantage of the military’s education benefits and to further his career. As Military Police, he is trained in responding to help the District in the case of national emergencies, and to perform the same duties overseas in a deployed environment.

    “It matters more for me being in the D.C. district as a guardsman, obviously because I’m a part of the community,” said Abdelghany. “I know the community, I went to school with a lot of people that live in this community. I’m heavy in the gym so I play basketball with a lot of people that are in this community still, and it just matters, it’s home.”

    Responding to domestic operations in the District is nothing new for the D.C. National Guard, who has been protecting and defending the nation’s capital since 1802. Community members will see guardsmen in uniform during large city events like the Fourth of July or presidential inaugurations, helping direct traffic, providing medical assistance or providing crowd control to make sure people are staying safe.

    Prior to working on the civil unrest mission, Abdelghany had been activated with the National Guard to support the District’s COVID-19 response.

    “We support our people, I support my people. I want them to know that. All our missions, especially now since COVID-19 has been happening,” he said. “We were out there previously, before this protest mission started. We were out there helping at testing sites, at supply sites. We were helping out, passing out boxes of hand sanitizers, gloves, masks. It’s all been for help and to keep the city safe.”

    During the civil unrest mission, Abdelghany had many interactions with protesters, all of them positive. After the video went viral, he has connected online with people from D.C., as well as Germany, Dubai, Australia and Egypt.

    One protester who locked eyes with him on the protest line and gave Abdelghany a bottle of water. The protester later found him on Facebook, where they had a back-and-forth discussion on ways they can come together to help the black community in D.C.

    They connected over their love of basketball and are in the beginning stages to plan a community event, once COVID-19 regulations allow them to safely do so, that features a basketball game, black vendors and getting black youth groups involved.

    With his newfound platform, he wants to use his voice for positive change. “It’s overwhelming but we have to find strength. We have to find unity together to bring change. Immediate change,” said Abdelghany.

    “I’m in this uniform, on this side, to make a real change for my black community. I hold myself responsible to do the right thing by protecting the people of D.C., along with securing my part for real progress within the city,” he said. “For my black and brown people, know that I love you and that I am very humbled and honored for the love and support that you have given me and continue to give me. I’m black and I’m proud. Peace and love. Black lives matter.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.09.2020
    Date Posted: 06.09.2020 22:30
    Story ID: 371785
    Location: DC, US

    Web Views: 890
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN