To me, Memorial Day is one of the most important days of the year; it is a time to celebrate our veterans with parades and lay wreaths at the graves of those American soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We are accustomed to honoring American servicemen and servicewomen, but it is important to recognize that there are non-Americans to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.
Sami was one of the pioneers of the revolution in a time when the revolution meant hope. He participated in the demonstration that took place in the Omayyad mosque. I remember the day. I saw him near the mosque one Friday in June 2011; he smiled at me and told me he would come over later that night.
What happens when the smiling young children who greeted us with "hellos" become teenagers who have grown up in the confines of Za'atari? If they see no future, they will become vulnerable to manipulation and radicalization. We have seen it before. We're about to see it again. The world must step up and act now.
Some families were in self-constructed shelters, using plastic sheets and pieces of wood. Many of their shelters had let in snow and water -- bringing misery to their inhabitants trying to stay warm. Aid agencies politely call the living conditions of these people "substandard." In truth, they are squalid and often unfit for human habitation.