The regulation headstone at grave 7986 in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery bears a crescent moon and a star in keeping with the fallen soldier’s faith.
The inscription is precisely what it would have been had his religion been signaled by a cross or a star:
KHAN, HUMAYUN SAQIB MUAZZAM CPT US ARMY SEPT 9 1976 JUNE 8 2004 BSM PURPLE HEART OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
BSM stands for Bronze Star Medal. Khan received it in recognition for his braverywhen he saw an orange colored taxi approaching the gate that he and his soldiers were guarding at their base in Baquba, Iraq on June 8, 2004.
“Hit the dirt,” Khan is said to have ordered his soldiers.
The men obeyed and took cover. Khan himself approached the taxi to investigate. The 27-year-old captain had taken 10 steps when the two Iraqis inside detonated a suicide bomb. He was killed and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart along with the Bronze Star.
Khan was buried nine days later in Section 60, a 14-acre area among the cemetery’s 624 acres where those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan are interred. An Army chaplain read aloud a letter from Khan’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Mitchell.
“He died selflessly and courageously, tackling the enemy head on. We will not forget him and the noble ideas he stood for.”
Photo By M. R. Patterson
Khan’s parents were among those present at the burial. Khizr and Ghazala Khan had come to America from the United Arab Emirates when their son was two and settled in Virginia. He had graduated from a high school named after President Kennedy in 1996. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in 2000. He enlisted in the U.S. Army with the hope of becoming a military lawyer.
Then, two days after his 25th birthday, terrorists flew hijacked airlines into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Khan deployed to Iraq in March of 2004. He had managed to call home on Mother’s Day. Ghazala Khan had begun to cry.
“Don’t worry,” he told her. “I’m safe.”
That all-American observance was the last time he spoke to her. One month and eight days later, she and her husband and the rest of the family stood at the freshly dug grave during the military ritual. An honor guard solemnly folded the American flag that covered the coffin and an officer in dress uniform presented it to the family.
“On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation,” the officer said.
An imam then recited the Namaz-e-Janaza, the Muslim funeral prayer.
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Later that day, the same military ritual was performed at the next grave over, 7987, for Army Special Forces Sergeant First Class Robert J. Mogensen of Leesville, Louisiana. He was 26. He had been killed by an IED in Afghanistan on May 29, 2004.
The grave on other side of Khan, grave 7985, was already occupied by Marine Lance Corporal Jeremiah E. Savage of Livingston, Tennessee. He and two fellow soldiers had been killed by an IED in Iraq on May 12, 2004. He had been buried on May 27.
The headstones for both Mogenson and Savage both have crosses. They are otherwise identical to Khan’s. And the parents of any fallen soldier would have immediately recognized the grief that was still so evident in his mother and father when they stood on the stage of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night.
At the Republican National Convention last week, Eric Trump had spoken of his father’s “great sacrifice” in seeking the presidency.
Photo By M. R. Patterson
“To run for the most powerful yet unforgiving office in the world. There is no greater calling, there is no more selfless an act.”
His sister, Ivanka, echoed her brother’s words, seeming equally deluded in the notion that Donald Trump was engaged in something noble by spreading fear and inciting bigotry and telling lie after lie while insisting he was telling it like it is.
“He sacrificed greatly to enter the political arena,” Ivanka said of their father.
At the DNC, Khizr now stood with his wife at his side and addressed Trump.
“Have you ever been to Arlington cemetery?” Khizr Khan asked. “Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities.”
The father of the hero buried in grave 7986 in Section 60 then told it like it really is.
“You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
A moment people would remember and should be the moment to ensure Trump’s defeat came when Khizr reached into the inside pocket of his suit coat. He took out a blue, brochure-sized document such as is given to new citizens.
“Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” he said. “In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’”
The mother stood in the silence of a parent whose grieving heart was still at that grave in section 60 where the headstone has a crescent moon and a star.