MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO has learned a very unlikely Minnesotan will have a starring role in Thursday’s rally for President Donald Trump.
Khalid Awda just became a United States citizen last month. The Iraqi translator, who also goes by the name “Philip,” helped save the lives of Minnesota soldiers. In return, National Guard member Paul Braun helped sponsor him. It took five years, but Awda is now a citizen.
“It’s a brotherhood,” Awda said. “Friends, we passed this level long time ago. [Paul Braun and I] are really brothers now.”
It’s a relationship so unique that the White House wants to share in it.
“They asked if we could actually come up on stage with the president and then have Philip lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Braun said.
So in front of a roaring crowd, the pair will stand by the leader of the country, as Awda leads the pledge.
He is an immigrant and a Muslim man — and he will stand alongside President Trump.
“That’s unique,” Awda said.
He says he disagrees on some of the president’s stances on immigration, and his rapid fire tweets — but it’s an opportunity he won’t turn down.
“I will stand side to side to the president just to show everyone I cross everything, and I left all the differences behind me. Now I’m American,” Awda said. “Republican, Democrat, whatever the president is, he’s the president to the United States of America, and legally he’s my president now.”
Braun hopes his fellow Minnesotans will see Awda as he sees him – an American hero.
“I hope people can understand that it doesn’t really matter what your background is, where you come from,” Braun said. “Anybody can get to share the stage, so to speak, in front of the crowd, and hopefully bring people together.”
And so Awda will stand by Braun, in hopes of making his new nation indivisible for all.
“I believe it’s the second honor thing that happened in my life. The first one [is] to know [Paul Braun]. The second one, to lead my new nation. It’s a big thing,” Awda said.
Not all of the details of the rally are public, but Awda and Braun say the plans are for President Trump to introduce them to kick-off the event.