MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Gold Star father Khizr Khan was thrust into the spotlight, after he spoke at the Democratic National Convention, challenging then-candidate Donald Trump to read his pocket constitution.
“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” said Khan during his DNC speech.
The feud quickly escalated when candidate Trump suggested Khan ‘s wife, Ghazala, was not allowed to speak.
“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say,” said Trump.
Since then, the Harvard educated lawyer has filed lawsuits against white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia and also challenged the Trump administration’s travel bans.
He’s out with two new books, a memoir, and a book for middle school students about the American constitution.
CBS4’s Rudabeh Shahbazi (RS) sat down with him to talk about the legacy of his son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan who died in Iraq defending American soldiers and his very public feud with the president.
RS: You and your family thought very long and hard, it was a really tough decision to speak at the DNC, and you talked to them about it and made the decision together. You were going to say no until you checked your mailbox.
KK: Yes. Yes. In the mailbox was a small card without a stamp……The sentence that sent us, was this – Mr. Khan , would you make sure that Maria is not thrown out of this country? We love her. She’s our friend. I looked at that card and that sentence, twice what was being said to us, and by whom, it had been sent to us. I brought that card to Ghazala…..She looked at the card and she looked at me with her eyes welled, and she said, we will go.
RS: How has your life changed now that you’re in the spotlight?
KK: If given the choice, we have enjoyed our peace and quiet and seclusion and modesty. We’d rather go back to that than being so public about this but there comes a time in every person’s life. You have two choices. Sit home and let someone else define you, let someone else take charge, or stand up and set the sail, and the wind is on your back, and the values that we have cherished so much, that has given us so much dignity, so much pride, so much honor, we stood up, we remain standing for those values.
RS: There are those who say you politicized your son’s death. How does that make you feel when you hear that?
KK: He never hesitated to offer his own life to protect others. He would stand next to us, and we sat in the room where his picture hangs, wondering, what would he do?
RS: He would have been supportive of that decision?
KK: He would have not been supportive, but he would have been proud of us, and he is proud of us, and we feel that sense. We feel that that is the message that he left us with, is care for others.
RS: When you see these white supremacists emboldened when you see these neo-Nazis in the street, and someone in Charlottesville who died protesting neo-Nazis, how does it make you feel about the values of this country?
KK: I come from Charlottesville. Charlottesville is my home – city of Thomas Jefferson. The United States’ brave men and women, thousands died in Europe died defeating that flag. How dare they display that ugliness on the streets of America again…They have the right of free speech, but that freedom stops when they are threatening the communities, when the community is afraid of their being there, carrying weapons.
RS: Why do you give out the pocket Constitution to young service members?
KK: I always advise them, please read it, you will be defending it with your life, as Captain Humayun Khan did, and they appreciate it. They cherish it and they save it…It’s a document that is so exceptional because it enlists, it contains our ideals, the ideals that have made America a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.
Khan says the interest of the world is evolving.
The proceeds of his book are going to go to a scholarship that they have set up in memory of their son.
The title of that scholarship at the University of Virginia is the Captain Humayun Khan Memorial Scholarship.