Lately, I’ve felt less at home in this country than I once did. For people who look like me or follow my Islamic faith, the United States has become a colder place. I no longer am sufficiently “American,” according to the definition some use today. And this is after I’ve served my country faithfully and honorably as a proud U.S. Marine.

Despite the trials and tribulations of going through adolescence while acclimating to this rich cultural melting pot, or the “salad-bowl,” as some of us call it, my one constant has always been that I belong in America.

It’s why I didn’t flinch for a second when I decided to join the Marines in October of 2000. As a Muslim, it was my duty to serve the country that I called home, and contrary to popular belief, my decision to don America’s cloth aligned with the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad—that loyalty and dedication to the U.S., my place of residence, was a part of my faith.