"Patriotic Arab Americans Making a Difference"

        Join Our Mailing List!




Join Our Mailing List!


Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps


I am one man made of two entirely different cultures
Name: Joseph Sultan
Rank: Corporal (E-4)
Service: United States Marine Corps
Status: Active
Location: Camp LeJeune, NC


The days of my youth were spent marveling about the Armed Forces. From watching the “Sands of Iwo Jima” starring the Duke to studying military manuals purchased at a local Army Navy shop, I always had it in my heart to serve in the military. For some reason or another, the branch that most appealed to my young mind was the Marine Corps. Something about the recruiting posters charging that Marines were part of an elite league of warriors, a band of men who are truly few and proud, made me want more than anything to be a member of their ranks. During my early teen years I visited a recruiter who told me to come back when I was eighteen and so it came to pass, years later when I was finally of age to enlist I returned and filed my paperwork. At the time, my motivations were simple, to serve Country and Corps and to advance my life in a positive, meaningful direction. My decision was to enter the reserves as an infantryman, a choice that I have always looked back on with appreciation.

I am one man made of two entirely different cultures. My father, a man who was raised in Lebanon, came to the United States in his twenties and met my mother here, in the United States. My appreciation for this side of my family is just beginning to burgeon as I am gaining more of an understanding of Arabic culture and history. An advantage of having a parent from another country is that I can see first hand how wonderful the United States treats its new citizens. Here opportunity abounded for my Dad and Uncles who have all done well for themselves while still maintaining a deep sense of loyalty for the land to which they came and that made them what they are. It is my feeling that this emotion is not as reflective in natives, perhaps it is from taking the good for granted and perhaps this complacency is why, on average, immigrants do better for themselves than natives.

My Mom’s family has been here for better that five generations and has come up well since transplantation from Europe. Here, immigrants could escape the woes of Europe in the nineteenth century and make a new life for themselves just as immigrants do today. This side of my family works hard and conducts themselves ethically and even though their goals may be more modest than my Dad or Uncles, they are nonetheless as noble. From my perch between the two I can clearly see the avenues that two different families have strode to arrive where they are and it has worked to wizen me as to what it is to be both a Come Over and a Native. It almost humors me to see how two cultures, however markedly different, could in fact be so much the same. The reason is uncertain to me and perhaps my hypothesis about it will change as I grow older and gain more experience and knowledge, however, it seems that the answer lies in this new culture that we all live in, the culture that we now simply call “American.” All of us, whether first or tenth generation live in our Nation and adhere both to the rules and enjoyments of our society and through the mutual experiences of our lives we have become closer to being one. Our differences do exist, but this is perhaps the only land where we all consider ourselves to be one of the same despite our ethnic histories.

Many may wonder what it is that makes me so desperately want to be in our military. There are many things to love about the States, almost too many. There are also many things to dislike but it is my firm conviction that as we advance ourselves culturally these imperfections will iron themselves out. Strong individuals who can see the good but also act to counter the bad will help lead us into a truly great society. Many people say that men and women who wear the uniform are owed a dept from society. In some cases this is true, any Medal of Honor citation will make that point clear. For many of us it is the opposite, we owe our country the dept for giving us a safe friendly place to grow up, to have wonderful experiences, and to live in a free society where one can have access to and publish whatever it is that they would like. Even sweeter, once the decision to serve has been made the government responds by giving those servicemen who would like to, the opportunity to better themselves. The military takes us to far away places, instills discipline in our bodies, makes us better leaders. Some days when we get to ride on helicopters or blow up tank bodies I have to wonder about the sanity of our government for paying us to have so much fun. At times I even feel selfish, here at the age of twenty-six my motivations to wear the uniform have become the betterment of myself and my life ahead of my debt whereas at nineteen it was the complete opposite. To recant my experiences since joining would be a book in and of itself, one far too long for this essay, my adventures have spanned from the Drill Deck on Parris Island to the Arctic Circle, to the Jungles of the South Pacific. It has been and will continue to be my express pleasure to be one of The Few, The Proud, The Marines.

Semper Fidelis,

Joseph K. Sultan
US Marine Corps





Copyright 2004. APAAM. All rights reserved.