The following post was written by the wife of an Army buddy of mine. These are her thoughts. These are her emotions.
These thoughts are not partisan in nature, nor are they impugning either of the repulsive characters involved in the Khan saga.
My friend is a Soldier. He was there when Humayun Khan sacrificed his life. He saw that sacrifice in raw and vivid detail. His wife says he’s been having a difficult time with all this. Every time he sees another exploitative story, according to her, he gets upset.
I haven’t said a word about the Democrats shameful use of this Gold Star family’s tragedy as a political tool in their convention. Nor have I said anything about Donald Trumps equally shameful subsequent attacks on the parents.
Both are equally repugnant, and I would urge every reader to put aside their hatred for either or both candidates, read these thoughts and consider where we are as a country. Is this the best we can be?
This post isn’t about what I feel. It is the voice of another – a voice that needs to be heard.
It’s an election year and the internet world is buzzing. People are snarling and growling at each other like so many monsters while hidden behind cyber veils of anonymity. Every action and every word of the candidates are being dissected, torn apart, and re-imagined to suit whatever agenda is being served.
It is an absolute muckraking mess. I customarily try to avoid these things and stay in my bubble so that I can enjoy my life.
Unfortunately, I have been shoved so far into the political toilet this week, that I am barely afloat. I find myself up, late at night, writing this because someone needs to address this issue.
No this has nothing to do with women’s rights, or my uterus, or gay rights, or transgender rights, or any of the hot button issues that you may think would concern a young woman. Instead it boils down to one simple fact – one simple moral principle that seems to have been lost on the media, the masses, and the political parties, in what can only be described as a feeding frenzy.
Capitalizing on the death of a soldier and the pain of his family for political gain is NOT OK.
I’m sure that you have all watched it. The parents of the late Army Captain Humayun Khan stood up at the Democratic National Convention and encouraged voters to vote Democrat, with Mrs. Khan standing strong next to her husband – a mother’s pain and anguish clear on her face. You heard the cheers as the camera panned out over a tearful, diverse and thoroughly patriotic audience who were fired up with the passion of purpose. It was all very heartwarming.
Except that it wasn’t heartwarming at all.
What you didn’t see were the Soldiers who served with Captain Khan as they struggled to cope.
What you didn’t see were their faces going pale as the memories re-emerged.
What you didn’t see was the anger when they realized that one of their own was being used posthumously as a prop to support a politician.
You didn’t see the rage when they realized the pain of Captain Khan’s parents was being exploited, or the abject disgust at the raging media circus that has ensued.
You haven’t seen their faces crumple with an abject sense of helplessness, as the name of a hero whom they hold in the highest regard has been dragged through the dirt by politicians and the media.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am sure that Captain Khan’s parents really only spoke with the best of intentions. I’m positive that they never would have thought that the American media and the American public could be so heartless when speaking of their deceased son. What has been said and done in the name of politics is appalling. I hold the family of Captain Khan in the highest regard.
Now before you stop reading and think that I’m just being some preachy opinionated internet keyboard warrior, I should tell you how I arrived at my view of this fiasco.
On June 8, 2004 Captain Humayun Khan took a Humvee to the entrance of FOB Warhorse. He greeted the gate guards, made conversation with them, and stepped outside to address some locals. It was his day off, but he was at the gate that day when he should have been resting. I have been told that he was meeting with local Iraqis to help them form a neighborhood watch program. A scant few minutes later there was a loud explosion. The guards at the gate were blown into the Hesco barriers by the force of the blast. They suffered ruptured eardrums and a myriad of other injuries.
One of those guards who greeted Captain Khan shortly before he stepped outside the FOB for the last time is my husband.
That was the day that Captain Khan died while saving my husband’s life.
That was the day that a man I never met ensured my future by giving up his own.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. Every time my daughter smiles, every time I hear my husband speak or crack a joke. Every single time we eat a family dinner or enjoy a movie Humayun Khan is there in the back of my mind.
Many of you saw a handsome young man’s face magnified on that screen. You saw the face of an American ideal, you saw the idea of a hero translated into a face.
I saw the face of a true warrior to whom I can never repay my debt. My husband saw the face of a brother in arms, a fellow soldier. He saw the face of a hero as well but he also saw the face of a human being and he remembered in vivid detail.
The general populace is detached. Many Americans only ever see neatly edited clips of war. For many war is a spectator sport. It is a glorious montage of patriotism and heroism that flashes across the screens of our televisions and our devices. Unfortunaly like most entertainments for the spectators it’s not real or solid in their minds.
Soldiers who serve don’t have that benefit; they get the full brutal reality. It is something that they live, see, hear, feel and smell. It is something that changes them. It is the memory that lurks and the bad dreams that torment. It is a never ending feeling and depository of memory.
For Captain Khan’s parents there are no words of gratitude that are appropriate and there are no words of sympathy powerful enough.
No one should ever have to be thanked for losing a child.
The question is where do we go from here? What’s done is done.
There is one thing we can do.
We can demand an apology from both the Democrats and the Republicans. We must remind the politicians that the stories of our honored dead are not theirs to use as they see fit. The valor of our heroes is not a commodity to be traded and capitalized on, and the pain of Gold Star family members is not and never should be a political crutch.
Our military families, Soldiers, veterans and our honored dead are the backbone of this nation. You shouldn’t have to be reminded to treat us with dignity and respect.
We are the citizens of a free nation founded by rebellious fathers. You will not tread on us.