I teach an 8th history class that competes in the We the People’s constitutional and civics program.  It is an understatement that this election season (which is now years long) is interesting.  I am nearly at my capacity after dedicating 8 days and nights to watching the conventions, following the comments of pundits and social media trolls.  Each convention held moments for me that stay with me.  There were moments throughout the conventions that caused me pause; but there was only one moment that made me openly weep.

In an election season of “if you are not with me, you are the enemy” and where the  voices of compromise and moderation are only canyon echoes.  It was the speech given by Khizr Khan on the last night of the Democratic Convention that moved me as a father, a veteran, a student of history and political science.

History has been unkind to “easily recognizable minorities”; the Jews in Nazi Germany, the Rohingya minority in Burma, the Ainu in Japan, African-Americans in our own country.  Our country has failed to live up to its own ideals of equal protection under the law in the infamous cases of Dred Scott, Minersville School District v Gobitis, Korematsu v the United States, Buck v Bell and Plessy v Ferguson.  In each case the easily identifiable minority was unprotected by the very government that bore the responsibility to protect those most vulnerable from the tyranny spawned from fear and self-interest.

Mr. and Mrs. Khan are gold star parents and are true Americans; their son Humayun cemented their place and his own place as an American patriot when he paid a soldier’s ultimate price.  His remains are forever interred in the hallowed ground of Arlington.

I was privileged to take the Fishers High School We the People team to Nationals in 2013.  As part of that trip we walked through the grounds of Arlington National Cemetary.  I pointed out brief lives of patriots and heroes as we walked through the curved paths.  I choked up at the graves of personal heroes and lives with short spans between their dates of birth and death, and shed silent tears at the site of John F Kennedy’s flame for my mom who cried so hard at his death.  I placed coins on the stones of some (it is the Irish in me).  I stood rigid at the changing of the guard and marvelled at the World War II veterans who left wheel chairs to render hand salutes.  On my next trip to Arlington I will find Humayan Khan’s grave and I will place a coin in his honor.  The symbol of Islam on his tombstone will join the religious symbols of so many that define America.

Those of you that know me understand that I am a political enigma.  I have no party identification and split ticket vote every time.  I have voted for Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and have used a pencil in my votes for president.  When I took the I Side With quiz, isidewith.com, in the primary season the two candidates that I had the most in common with were Rand Paul at 72% and Bernie Sanders at 71%.  Go figure.   I am secretive with vote…I don’t tell my politics and don’t share my voting record.

I believe in the ideals that made America the marvel of the world.  The concepts of liberty, equal protection, and rule of law matter.  Khizr Khan reminded me of these ideals and that America should live up to the observation of Alexis de Tocqueville so many years ago when he wrote, “America is great, because Americans are good.”