Khizr Khan's stirring speech at the Democratic National Convention honored his fallen son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan. Now, others are joining in to celebrate the soldier's sacrifice. Khan's gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. has been inundated with flowers, gifts, and visitors over the last few days. It's a testament to the power of his father's speech and the goodwill of the American people.
Jake Dowell, a 17-year-old from Chicago, was moved to pay his respects to Khan upon hearing Khizr Khan's DNC speech. Dowell told The Washington Post that he thinks Khan is "a representation of what it means to be an American."
"I just wanted to see and pay my respects to an American hero," Dowell told The Washington Post. "They had their lives and stories," he said. A powerful photo from The Washington Post showed Dowell looking out on the rows of white marble tombstones.
Khan died at the age of 27, just 10 years older than Dowell is now. He joined the Army after graduating from the University of Virginia, where he was part of the ROTC program. After quickly rising through the ranks to become a captain, Khan was assigned to lead an infantry company in Iraq. On June 8, 2004, Khan was inspecting soldiers on guard duty in Baquabah, Iraq, when a taxi filled with explosives came speeding up to the post, according to a U.S. Department of Defense press release. Khan ordered his men to stay back as he approached the vehicle, which detonated an IED. For his service to his country and leadership which saved all his subordinates, Khan was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, two of the highest honors available to Army soldiers.
Although much of the focus on Khan's father's speech has centered around its political ramifications, there are those who remembered the hero who was lost in the story, and the family which still aches for their son. A card left on his grave addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Khan read, “Do small things with great love,” accompanied by a drawing of a sparrow, The Washington Post reported. His gravestone and the flowers which now adorn it defy the divisiveness of this political election, acting as a reminder that recognizing the important things is easier than it's made out to be.
Now, 12 years after his death, Khan's legacy of peacemaking has a new resurgence, thanks to his parents, who are still carrying on the things he believed. Khan is now the symbol of a nonpolitical convergence, a point at which all Americans can come together. His grave is a shrine to his life, his sacrifice, and his ideals, which will hopefully sit at the forefront of American political life for quite some time to come.