American Muslims, both slaves and freedmen, served in the American War of Independence and the War of 1812, and with both the Union Army and the Confederacy during the Civil War.
According to Department of Veterans Affairs burial and memorial records, about 5,470 people with possible Muslim names — there are numerous spellings of Muhammad — served in World War I.
In Europe, the numbers were much higher. Perhaps 400,000 Muslims from the British Empire fought on the Allied side. Tens of thousands fought in the French armed forces, and in 1926, the Grand Mosque in Paris was dedicated in their honor.
Muslims also served Allied forces during World War II. One typical serviceman was John R. Omar, a native of Quincy, Mass., who was a turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator. Assigned to the Eighth Air Force in Europe, Omar was part of 29 missions, including the Battle of the Bulge. Awarded the Purple Heart after he was hit by shrapnel in his right leg, Omar went on to run his own body shop and later performed the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca.