Families of Fallen Service Members Demand Apology From Trump

Khizr Khan, father of fallen U.S. Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan, holds up a copy of the Constitution as his wife, Ghazala, listens during the Democratic National Convention. Khizr Khan, father of fallen U.S. Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan, holds up a copy of the Constitution as his wife, Ghazala, listens during the Democratic National Convention. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The families of twenty-three fallen service members are demanding an apology from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for his recent remarks about the parents of a Muslim-American Army captain killed in Iraq.

Members of Gold Star Families, a group made up of people who have lost loved ones in battle, called Trump’s recent comments about Khizr and Ghazala Khan “repugnant, and personally offensive to us,” in an Aug. 1 letter to the GOP nominee.

“When you question a mother's pain, by implying that her religion, not her grief, kept her from addressing an arena of people, you are attacking us,” said the letter. “When you say your job building buildings is akin to our sacrifice, you are attacking our sacrifice.”

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The Khan’s son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed by a suicide car bomb in 2004; Khizr spoke at last week’s Democratic National Convention with wife Ghazala standing silently next to him.

Khizr criticized Trump in his DNC speech, saying the businessman had “sacrificed nothing and no one” and asked whether the Republican presidential nominee had ever read the U.S. Constitution. “I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khizr added, producing a pocket-sized version of the Constitution to cheers in the convention hall.

Trump fired back on Twitter, saying he was “viciously attacked” by Khan, and that Khan had no right to claim he hadn’t read the Constitution. Trump accused Khizr of being a tool of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and then said that it looked like Ghazala had “nothing to say” and that “maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

Ghazala, who appeared with her husband in a hijab, later said she was too emotional over her son’s death to speak publicly. Since his July 28 speech, Khizr has appeared on television to defend himself and his wife, and Ghazala wrote a July 31 op-ed in the Washington Post responding to Trump.

“Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me,” she wrote. “Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.”

Several political leaders, including Clinton and Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain, have denounced Trump’s remarks about the Khans.

The letter from the Gold Star families was coordinated by Karen Meredith, a Gold Star mother who is the military families coordinator for VoteVets.org. VoteVets.org “work with all progressive allies representing labor, immigration, gay and lesbian rights, and environmentalists, when their issues coincide with the needs of troops and veterans,” according to the group’s website.

“We feel we must speak out and demand you apologize to the Khans, to all Gold Star families, and to all Americans for your offensive, and frankly anti-American, comments,” said the letter, signed by the family members of service members killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Korea.

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