'Patriots & Peacemakers' Exhibits Arab-American Service to Country

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Too often subjected to prejudicial stereotypes, Arab-Americans have made concrete historical contributions to the United States--even if history textbooks fail to tell the tale.

"Patriots & Peacemakers: Arab-Americans in Service to Our Country" is a traveling exhibition curated by the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and will be setting up shop starting Saturday at the Student Center of the University of California, Irvine.

It focuses on well-researched stories of those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, diplomatic posts and the Peace Corps.

Arab-Americans have been a part of major historical conflicts since the American Revolution itself and World War II. Sometimes their enlistment was out of a sense of gratitude for the homeland. Other times, even when conscription didn't mesh with personal convictions regarding a particular war, Arab-Americans served with a sense of diligence, the exhibit's curators say.

In the realm of diplomacy, Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba is highlighted as the first woman to hold such a post in a Gulf state. Other notable narratives including Peace Corps volunteers active since the organization's inception to missions in Rwanda in the aftermath of genocide.

The Arab American National Museum created and curated "Patriots & Peacemakers" to honor the lives and give voice to those who have undertaken such commitments. They are a part of this nation's history as anybody else. In undertaking the task, curators spent four years researching and conducting hundreds of interviews across the United States.

As the exhibit readies to make its stop at UCI, there are a number of Southern California locals featured, including Korean War veteran Don Bustany who has gone on to host the long-standing KPFK 90.7FM public affairs program Middle East in Focus.

"Patriots & Peacemakers" will have its opening reception Sunday January 13 from 4-6 p.m and the exhibit will continue on until January 26. A series of complimentary workshops are scheduled on that day as well as on January 20 on topics such as "Who are Arab Americans?"

For OC's hilarious haters, this exhibit should give them a broadened sense of the answer to that question...we can only hope!

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