WASHINGTON ― Since 1936, the United States has recognized the final Sunday of September as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, a time to honor the families of soldiers killed in battle. The occasion carries a particular significance this year, coming a few weeks after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump insulted the parents of a Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq.
President Barack Obama on Friday addressed the importance of recognizing parents whose children had died in the military.
“Through unspeakable sorrow, our Gold Star families suffer from loss that can never be restored ― pain that can never truly be healed,” he said in a proclamation. “It is because of their selfless character and unfailing grace that Americans can come home each day, gather with family and friends, and live in peace and security.”
“And though the debt our fallen soldiers and their families pay is one we can never fully pay back, we must continue to support our veterans when they come home and stand by our military families who endure unthinkable loss,” Obama continued.
Trump attempted to discredit Khizr and Ghazala Khan after they appeared onstage at the Democratic National Convention in July. With his wife at his side, Khizr spoke about their son, former Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004. In a moving speech, Khizr asked what Trump had ever sacrificed for his country.
Trump responded by suggesting Ghazala had not been permitted to speak because she was Muslim.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me,” Trump told ABC at the time. Khan said she had not spoken at the convention because she was still grief-stricken over her son’s death.
In his proclamation, Obama also spoke about the importance of treating Americans with respect.
“We must maintain the sacred covenant we share with our veterans by ensuring they have the care and benefits they deserve, and as citizens, we must all work to lift each other up in a manner that is worthy of those who laid down their lives to protect the land and freedoms we cherish,” he said.