On the final day of the Democratic National Convention, a Muslim American man made a speech that confronted Republican nominee Donald Trump's xenophobic language in an incredibly powerful way. His address had the nation wondering: Who was Khizr Khan's son, Humayun Khan? The fallen soldier's father remembered his son's unrelenting patriotism on Thursday and urged America to reject Trump's fear-mongering depiction of the Muslim population.
It's no secret that Trump is quick to make generalizations about entire ethnicities, cultures, and religions. Little does he realize, many of the people he carelessly demeans have sacrificed more than he has for this nation. During his speech, Khizr Khan asked Trump, "Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?" His son — who is both a Muslim and a patriot — is buried there.
Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one. We can't solve our problems by building walls and sowing division.
Humayun grew up in the United States and attended the University of Virginia, where he joined Reserved Officers' Training Corps. Upon graduating, he enlisted in the Army and eventually became a Captain. While trying to stop two suicide bombers in Iraq, he died on June 8, 2004.
During a speech on national security in Minneapolis earlier this year, Clinton referenced Humayun's sacrifice. A video of that speech played at the DNC before Khizr addressed the crowd. Clinton recounted the scene on that fateful day as a suspicious vehicle started moving towards Humayun's infantry unit. The Captain was willing to sacrifice it all to protect his men, fully understanding the fatal consequences.
Captain Khan told his troops to get back, but he went forward. He took 10 steps toward the car.
She went on to quote his father, who said his son's sacrifice reassured him that his family's moving to America was not a mistake.
All those things he learned in this country kicked in. It was those values that made him take those 10 steps.
Today, those honorable 10 steps are being remembered by people across the nation. According to the University of Virginia's Top News Daily, Humayun was the first member of the school's ROTC program since the Vietnam War to die in combat. The school held a number of tributes for the former student, one of which featured a speech by his father.
According to Khizr, his son asked him to remember the words in his college admittance essay if he didn't come back from serving in Iraq. Again, Humayun fully comprehended the risks he was taking and nobly accepted them. His essay maintained that sacrifice was an absolute necessity in democracy. And unlike so many of us who never act on our beliefs, Humayun fulfilled his words.
Rebecca Skinner, an old friend and ROTC instructor, added at the ceremony, "He gave joy to everyone who knew him."
Upon his death, Humayun Khan was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his valiant efforts. It's efforts like his — and so many other Muslim Americans — that have helped to make this nation what it is today.