College hosts memorial to fallen soldier, class of 2006 alumnus

The college held memorial services on Wednesday to honor the life and service of 1st Lt. Mohsin Naqvi, a 2006 Geneseo alumnus killed in action while serving the U.S. Army in Afghanistan on Sept. 17, 2008.

Naqvi was a Muslim-American who moved to the United States when he was eight years old; he became a citizen at 16. Just four days after the attacks on 9/11, Naqvi enlisted in the military. He served a tour in Iraq in 2003 and was sent to Afghanistan in 2008. Naqvi hoped to "bridge a cultural divide," as both a Muslim and an American.

Naqvi was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart – all were conferred posthumously. Although he faced prejudice from other soldiers, Naqvi believed in the cause of the U.S. and served the country bravely, according to those who remembered him. "He was first an American and then a Muslim," his father said at the 6 p.m. service.

Brad Archibald, a U.S. Army veteran and current Access Opportunity Program student, said, "It's usually the best of a generation that pay the ultimate price in war. It is this that leaves us weaker as a nation and a culture." Archibald said that Naqvi had a "positive effect on everyone he came in contact with, and [we have to] make sure he is not forgotten or lost in the pages of history."

The service was performed once during the All-College Hour and again at 6 p.m. A presentation by Amir Muhammad, president of Collected Stories of American Muslims, was exhibited throughout the day.

Muhammad's exhibit detailed the roots of Islam in America. Wes Kennison, faculty fellow for international programs and the introducer of Muhammad at the evening ceremony, said that the presentation aimed to "fill in the gaps of our Western history."

The CSAM exhibit provided historical documents indicating the names of Muslims involved in the founding period of the U.S. and showcasing photographs and biographies of prominent Muslim figures that contributed to the U.S. throughout history.

Kennison said that Muslims have played an important part in "all aspects of [our] society," and that it is important to know that they have always had a presence in American culture.

Fowziyyah Ali, associate director of AOP, said, "Our purpose in coming together for this was to honor Mohsin Naqvi in two ways: as an American patriot and hero, and as a Muslim patriot and hero."

A scholarship fund in Naqvi's honor is being planned.