U.S. service men and women have a powerful message for a young girl who was intimidated by Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from the country: Don’t be afraid; we will protect you, The Huffington Post reports. .
The girl’s name is Sofia. She’s 8 years old and lives in Dallas, Texas. Earlier this month, her mom, Melissa Chance Yassini, took to Facebook to explain the devastating effect that the GOP frontrunner’s comments had had on the child.
Yassini told Upworthy that Sofia had been watching the news with her grandmother when she learned of Trump’s desire to deport refugees and prevent Muslims from entering the United States. “She ran to me with a look of absolute fear on her face,” Yassini told the news outlet. “It was the first time that it really drove home to me that we’re in a dangerous place right now.”
In the days following the incident, Yassini’s post went viral, racking up thousands of shares. It also got the attention of Kerri Peek, a mom and Army veteran from Colorado. Peek said she was deeply moved and disturbed by Sofia’s story, and felt compelled to act.
“Salamalakum Melissa!” Peek responded to Yassini on Facebook, sharing a photo of herself in uniform. “Please show this picture of me to your daughter. Tell her I am a mama too and as a soldier I will protect her from the bad guys.” Peek then issued a plea to her “friends in the armed forces,” asking them to show their solidarity with families like Yassini’s.
“When I read about Ms. Melissa Chance Yassini’s post about her daughter, I posted my picture in the Army. I want these precious babies to know that we will not come and grab them out of their homes and hurt them and their families,” Peek wrote on Facebook. “Will you help me? Post a picture of you in uniform with the hashtag #IWillProtectYou to let these children know that we will not hurt them. That they are safe here in America.”
Many U.S. service members obliged, posting their own messages of support. This week, the hashtag #IWillProtectYou began trending on Facebook.