Opinion: Trump Attacked All Gold Star Families by Attacking the Khans
Michael Hoffman is a former managing editor of Military.com and an Air Force veteran. He is now executive editor and director of marketing for Tandem National Security Innovations in Arlington, Virginia. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.
Donald Trump expects you to forget about his attack on a Gold Star Family who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country when they lost their son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, in Iraq. Trumps expects Americans to tune into entertaining reality TV, like the Bachelorette finale that aired Monday night, and move on to the next news cycle.
It's not a bad bet. He won the Republican nomination using this strategy.
Trump has insulted U.S. Sen. John McCain for his sacrifices as a prisoner of war; he stood on a podium and mocked a reporter with a disability during a campaign event; and he questioned Judge Gonzalo Curiel's ability to do his job because of his Mexican heritage. Each action should have rendered him unfit him for the presidency, and yet here he stands.
America's service members and veterans must ensure that America's memories sharpen.
Because by attacking Ghazala Khan and questioning her strength, Trump attacked every mother or father who had to see their son or daughter return from Iraq or Afghanistan in a casket draped in the American flag.
Trump had the indecency to compare his job to the sacrifices felt by a family who lost a loved one fighting for America.
True sacrifice is found on the flight line of Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, where heartbroken families wait for their loved ones to return from war in the bellies of U.S. cargo aircraft. True sacrifice is found at Arlington Cemetery or the hometown cemeteries where those families bury their loved ones.
Families are the ones who often suffer the most. America's fighting men and women know this best. They know about all the birthdays, graduations, first steps and first kisses missed. They know about the hell families go through not knowing whether their soldier, Marine, airman or sailor will survive until the next email, Skype session, or phone call.
Trump turned the spotlight on the most crucial 1 percent of this country with his attack on the Khan family. The 1 percent who volunteered and fought for this country in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 1 percent Trump called a "disaster" during his speech accepting the Republican nomination.
His example has led to attacks on the families of other service members.
On Monday evening, a concerned mother of an airman asked Trump's running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, about the attacks on Khan's family. She was booed by those in attendance at the Trump-Pence rally as she held up a photo of her son.
Most reactions to Trump's attack on this Gold Star Family have included a caveat about his political opponent. This time, it's not about the Democratic nominee. It's about Trump attacking one of the most sacred parts of the military community in an election in which he is running for commander in chief. He attacked a Gold Star Family.
Bonnie Carroll, the president and founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), told The Washington Post that Trump's comments forced her to "defend the honor" of a family who had lost a service member for the first time in the program's history.
Brian Duffy, the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), issued a statement defending the Khans, saying: "There are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed. Giving one's life to the nation is the greatest sacrifice, followed closely by all Gold Star families, who have a right to make their voices heard."
It is true. The Khans chose to put themselves and their son's sacrifice in the spotlight by speaking at the Democratic National Convention. Addressing their message for its content would have been a fair response.
Instead, Trump tried to identify a weakness and attack Mrs. Khan for not speaking beside her husband. He then unleashed a tirade on Twitter trying to connect the Khan family with radical Islamic terrorists. He had the indecency to connect the Khan family to the enemy that their son sacrificed his life to defeat so other American families like the Trumps may sleep soundly.
This despicable action must not be forgotten in November by America's service members, their families, or any American family.
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