Over the last few days the nation has been treated to a new low in politics, courtesy of the Democratic National Committee using a Gold Star family to make a cheap political shot in our ongoing ever-childish presidential race. Predictably, the press has gone wild to make victims out of the Khan family and to reassure the world that their fallen son, CPT Khan, is a hero.
Both are true. The Khan family are victims. They are grieving the loss of their beloved son, and are being actively exploited for the gains of political operatives and ever rating-hungry “news” organizations.
Their son fits the mold of the modern incarnation of the military hero, because he did not come back. I don’t mean to cheapen his sacrifice, but to call attention to the fact that he is NOT the only Soldier who lost his life for our country in war. His sacrifice is no greater than that of the many others who paid the ultimate sacrifice before or after him.
During the time I spent in Afghanistan, we lost eight Soldiers. I remember them. In particular I remember PFC Vince Ellis, now at rest in Arlington National Cemetery. His story is one of heroics when our base was attacked on June 1st, 2012. He ran to the fight and placed himself into danger very deliberately, because that’s what great Soldiers do when the enemy is assaulting. His father is a service-member. I met his family at our memorial dedication a few months later. They are the portrait of an American family, honored to serve. They have sacrificed even more than the Khans. Yet they want nothing from us, but to remember their son. They are a family of heroes, but will never be known or proclaimed as heroes by Trump and Pence, eager to settle the dust of the latest narrative trap they were so foolish to walk into.
For those clamoring to add their voice to the chorus, if you have never worn the uniform, you have no place in this debate. Do those of us who know something about this topic a favor and go back to living your simple lives, content to let guys like us carry the water for your safety, while you opine about your first world problems.
The Khans are victims. Their son, a hero. But for very different reasons than the pundits are proclaiming.