Syrian refugees thankful in Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky -- It's the first Thanksgiving for America's newest pilgrims -- refugees from Syria, some of whom arrived less than two months ago, all breaking bread in their new home in Kentucky.

Newcomers like 15-year-old Koussay Ghalyoun and 18-year-old Nour Alkunuss fled Homs at the height of the Syrian civil war.

EVENING NEWS diaz refugees
Syrian refugee Koussay Ghalyoun, 15, recently arrived in Kentucky CBS News

"When I remember my country, I feel like I'm dying," said Ghalyoun. "Because people in my country die everyday."

They met at a school for refugees in Kentucky, far from the front lines of Syria. But now, they're facing another brewing problem.

Since the Paris attacks, protesters have taken to the streets across the United States, voicing their opposition to Syrian refugees coming in, perceiving them as a security threat. More than 30 governors across the country agree -- including Matt Bevin, who takes office in Kentucky in two weeks.

Kentucky Governor-elect Matt Bevin CBS News

"Let's be thoughtful, let's pause. Let's use a measured approach. That's all anybody's saying," explained Bevin. "If we are delusional to think that there are not evil people trying to do bad things to ourselves, then we're going to be delusional to our own detriment."

Shadi, who asked us not to use his last name, is a new arrival.

"If there is an explosion or attack somewhere else and Syrians are stopped from coming to the U.S. of course that creates some fear," he said. "It's the same kind of fears we felt when we were in Syria."

Shadi said getting to the U.S. was grueling -- over two and a half years of lengthy interviews and background checks. For him the worst part was the waiting.

Nour is eager to start a new life here, and is trying to understand the backlash. "Maybe they're thinking refugees are dangerous people. The Islam means peace, not means war."

These new arrivals say they're thankful for the warm welcome they've received, but are worried for what lies ahead.