30 March 2008

A Triumph of Spirit

Fatima Ali, Mrs. M, is flanked by North Dakota National Guard soldiers Sgt. 1st Class Shayne Beckert and Maj. Grant Wilz as they place their hands on a wall to bless a West Fargo house built by Habitat for Humanity for the Iraqi family of a man who was killed for helping the Americans. The soldiers helped to bring the family to the United States three years ago. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

The soldiers had told M many times to be careful. They worried about him. He smiled and dismissed the warnings, they said, and asked just one thing: "If something happens to me, take care of my family."

After he was killed, Beckert and Wilz went to console Mrs. M and the children. She was terribly frightened, they said, certain that her children were in danger. She looked at the soldiers and asked: "We go America?"

"We looked at each other," Wilz said. "Then, we looked at her and said, 'Yes.' "

Fatima Ali watches as son Theer, 9, and daughter April, 2 1/2, reconnect with Maj. Grant Wilz (holding April) and Sgt. 1st Class Shayne Beckert. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

Read this inspiring story about the North Dakota National Guard soldiers of the 141st Engineer Combat Battalion and the Iraqi family who became their own. And bring a tissue.

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