Gold Star families, those who have lost loved ones in war, are demanding an apology from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after what they are calling Trump’s “anti-American” comments toward a slain Muslim U.S. soldier.
Trump was criticized by Khizr Khan, the father of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, during the 2016 Democratic National Convention because of Trump’s proposal to background check and vet Muslim immigrants. Trump countered on Sunday, telling George Stephanopolous on ABC’s “This Week” that he, too, had made sacrifices through his business enterprises and questioned Khizr Khan’s wife, Ghazala Khan, because she didn’t speak at the convention.
VoteVets, a veterans advocacy group, released a letter Monday criticizing Trump about his comments. The letter is signed by 11 Gold Star family members who said “Ours is a sacrifice you will never know. Ours is a sacrifice we would never want you to know.”
“We feel we must speak out and demand you apologize to the Khans, to all Gold Star families, and to all Americans for your offensive, and frankly anti-American, comments,” the letter states.
Here is what you need to know about Gold Star families:
1. Gold Star Families Have Lost a Loved One in War
A “Gold Star” is a recognition of a deceased military family member. The stars appeared on service flags shortly after World War I — a blue star meant the serviceman or servicewoman was living, a gold star signified the deceased.
“Many Gold Star families wear the Gold Star lapel pin to signify their pride,” Gold Star Families states. “The lapel pin displays a Gold Star with a purple background surrounded by a gold wreath and first made its appearance during World War I.”
Community groups support others and help others through times of grief, sadness, pain and dismay, the organization says.
2. There Is a Separate Group Just For Moms: Gold Star Mothers
American Gold Star Mothers Inc. is an off-shoot group from the overall Gold Star families. A self-described veterans service organization, chartered by Congress in 1984, Gold Star Moms “continue to honor our sons and daughters through service — service to veterans and patriotic events,” its website states.
In discussing the moms group, Martin told “Soldiers,” the official U.S. Army magazine, “We get it.”
“We are a proud profession of Mothers, who do not dwell on grief support, but support to veterans,” Martin wrote on the moms site. “It is through that veteran support that we find comfort. I believe we save each other side-by- side. It’s a ‘sister thing’.”
3. Ghazala Khan Is A Gold Star Mother
Ghazala Khan, who stood next to her husband on stage at the DNC, didn’t speak there. She told MSNBC “It was very nervous, because I cannot see my son’s picture and I cannot even come in the room where his pictures are, and that’s why when I saw the picture on my back, I couldn’t take it. And I controlled myself at that time, so it is very hard,” she said.
Khan is a Gold Star mother. She lost her son, 27-year-old Capt. Humayun Khan, in Iraq in 2004.
“Captain Khan told his troops to get back, but he went forward. He took 10 steps toward the car,” said Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a video introducing Khan’s father at the DNC.
4. Family Members of 17 Fallen Service Members Wrote Trump for His Comments About The Khans
The letter, in its entirety, goes after Trump for his comments about the Khans. It is signed by Gold Star families and was released by VoteVets, which, according to its website, is backing all Democrats for federal office. The group has also spent more than $600,000 against Trump this election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org.
The letter reads:
5. Fallen Benghazi Soldier’s Mom, A Gold Star Mom, Is a Trump Supporter
Not all Gold Star families are represented by the letter.
Patricia Smith, the Gold Star mother of fallen Benghazi soldier Sean Smith, is a Trump supporter. She spoke at the GOP National Convention.
Conservative voices are sounding off against “the media” and its portrayal of the Trump-Khan situation. Pointing to Clinton’s actions as Secretary of State, conservatives have said the Democrat “pretty much” called Smith a liar.
“You know, look, I feel a great deal of sympathy for the families of the four brave Americans that we lost at Benghazi. And I certainly can’t even imagine the grief that she has for losing her son. But she’s wrong. She’s absolutely wrong,” Clinton said during a debate.