Gold Star father receives Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House

Khizr Khan has committed his life to championing democracy, equality, and religious freedom.
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 6:49 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Gold star father and champion for religious freedom, Khizr Khan of Virginia, is one of 17 people who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom Thursday.

The medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor and is awarded to people who the White House said “made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.”

“I am grateful to President Biden and his administration for being champions of diversity and equal dignity. Both are our foundational values,” said Khan after the ceremony. “This award I accept on behalf of all immigrants. And, that is what it means that I am accepting it on behalf of all immigrants, recent or those who came long ago.”

Khan has committed his life to championing democracy and equality. He founded the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center and served on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom under President Biden.

Khan earned national attention when he spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Khan has also spoken at length on behalf of soldiers such as his son, Captain Humayun Khan, who died in 2004 protecting his fellow soldiers from a car explosion in Iraq.

“Our independence is indebted to the sacrifices of thousands that are laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery. Meaning, our democracy, our foundational values, our liberty requires vigilance and sacrifice. And they have offered all this. Captain Humayun Khan is one of them. My son is one of them. And, his Purple Heart medal will sit next to this Medal of Freedom, reminding us that freedom requires vigilance. And, especially these days when our democracy is being challenged domestically and by our adversaries. Americans need to come together and be vigilant to protect democracy and democratic values.”

Khizr Khan told the Washington News Bureau he is humbled, grateful, and surprised to receive the Medal of Freedom.

“My life has been had been testament to America’s foundational values. Immigration, coming to the shores of this blessed nation, empty handed and then being blessed with so very much by this nation. So that had been my proudest accomplishment that I am able to share my experience with the rest of America and the rest of the world,” he said.

Khan said he once asked for advice from holocaust survivors on how to continue to spread his message. He said they told him to continue to speak about “American democracy, about the values of our foundational values freedom, liberty, equal dignity, religious freedom. Had more people have spoken, we could have avoided the atrocities of the Second World War.”

He calls on other Americans to now come together to preserve our democracy as well.

“I have lived in the society, in a system where authoritarian dictators ruled. I had no rights. I was a mere human being, subject to their whims and wishes, then migrating to the United States. All the liberties and dignities are mine now,” said Khan. “So I am a testament to what it takes to be free, what it takes to be living in a free community, free society, and what is required. Which, is to make sure that we are cognizant, make sure that we preserve it, make sure that we resolve our differences. It is in the DNA of America that we resolve our differences by debate and by legislation.”

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