A Gold Star father whose son died while serving in Iraq and who became part of the contentious 2016 presidential campaign said President Donald Trump simply can’t comprehend what it means to make the “ultimate sacrifice” for his country.
Khizr Khan spoke to HuffPost Thursday following a series of controversies surrounding Trump after the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Niger. Along with reportedly telling the widow of one of those who perished that her husband knew “what he signed up for,” Trump falsely claimed that previous presidents didn’t call families of fallen service members.
Khan ― whose son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, died in 2004 protecting his fellow soldiers from suicide bombers ― first paid his respects to the soldiers killed in Niger. Referring to them affectionately as his “sons,” he said, “My humblest respect for those families, they are the most honorable in this nation at this moment and they will always be remembered as such.”
He added: “Such moments like this in our history require the most dignity and respect be extended to these families, to our heroes. All presidents have done that in privacy and in public, and Trump needs to do exactly the same thing.”
Instead, Khan said, Trump has time and again proven how little he cares about military families. He noted how Trump, during his presidential campaign, said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wasn’t a war hero because he was captured during the Vietnam War.
“When McCain offered his services and so bravely continued to stand for the values of this country, the president ran away from serving,” Khan said, referring to deferments from the draft Trump received during the Vietnam era. “He has no concept of what it takes to serve ― no comprehension.”
Khan first came to national attention during the 2016 Democratic National Convention, giving a speech in which he said Trump had “sacrificed nothing” for the U.S. and asked if he had even read the Constitution.
“I will gladly lend you my copy,” he said at that time, pulling out a copy from his suit coat pocket and bringing his listeners to their feet.
Khan told HuffPost that he doesn’t have hope that 71-year-old president will change.
“He has embarrassed the nation with his words, with his utter, indefensible statements,” he said. “It is with sadness that I say that. This office has not dignified him ― he has in fact undignified the office.”