Local Gold Star mom speaks out against Trump comments

Karen Meredith pens letter demanding presidential candidate apologize to family of Muslim soldier killed in action

Hearing Khizr Khan speak movingly at last week's Democratic National Convention about his son, who was killed by a suicide bomber while serving in Iraq, brought Mountain View Gold Star mother Karen Meredith to tears. Hearing Donald Trump's subsequent comments attacking the Khan family has moved her to action.

"For the first time in a long time, I cried," she said.

On Tuesday, she told the Mountain View Voice (the Palo Alto Weekly's sister paper) that she hasn't gotten a response from Trump to her Aug. 1 letter, signed by Gold Star families, demanding an apology for his comments.

"Republican leadership needs to stand up and pull its endorsement of him if he doesn't stop insulting the segment of the country that serves in the military," said Meredith, whose son, Army Lt. Ken Ballard, was killed in Iraq. "(They say) 'thank you for your service' and 'everybody respects you,' but they're not calling him on his behavior."

The letter says that attacking one Gold Star family is an attack on everyone who has lost a family member serving in the military.

"When you question a mother's pain, by implying that her religion, not her grief, kept her from addressing an arena of people, you are attacking us. When you say your job building is akin to our sacrifice, you are attacking our sacrifice," the letter says.

"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."

Trump, the Republican candidate for president, implied that Ghazala Khan, the mother of Capt. Humayun Khan who stood silently by her husband while he addressed the convention, was prohibited from speaking because she is a Muslim woman. Trump also objected to Khizr Khan questioning his grasp of the United States Constitution. It has since escalated into something of a feud, with Trump refusing to back down from his comments and complaining that he was "viciously attacked" by Khan.

Meredith said she was moved to write the letter because of the hurt expressed by some of her fellow Gold Star families, who felt that Trump's comments about the Khans belittled the losses experienced by all of them. She said she could completely identify with the difficulty of addressing such a large audience while standing in front of a giant photo of the son they'd lost.

"Seeing Mrs. Khan, so clearly bereaved and standing by her husband when he pulled out the Constitution, I practically stood up to give a standing ovation," she said. "When he accused Trump of not sacrificing anybody or anything, I was so moved. He was describing the civilian-military divide in our country. Most people have never served in the military."

There's another link connecting Meredith with the Khans: Their sons are buried in the same section of Arlington National Cemetery.

"For me, it's been 12 years. Ken was killed the week before Capt. Khan. They're in the same row at Arlington; (the Khans) are on the same 12 years of grief that I've been on," she said.

After losing her son in 2004, Meredith has kept busy volunteering with groups supporting veterans and the families of military service members who were killed, both locally at the Palo Alto VA Hospital and the Mountain View Veterans Memorial, and with national organizations.

"It keeps me out of trouble ... until Donald Trump," she quips.

"When Donald Trump ... described his sacrifices as hiring tens of thousands of people, I was thinking it sounds like more of a business plan," Meredith said. "I was waiting for him to get to his sacrifice, but he never did. I guess he uses a different dictionary than normal people do."

It was the latest in what Meredith considers Trump's troubling behavior toward America's military, ranging from last year's derisive comments about Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war, to promising donations to veterans and not delivering, she said.

"The numerous instances of disrespect to the military, it goes beyond not being presidential," she said. "How much respect could the military have for him?"

She said she is particularly troubled by the idea of a President Trump commanding the military to engage in torture.

"Troops are not allowed to have political opinions; they have to do what their commander tells them," Meredith said. "If he tells them to torture, what does that say about our country?"

Since posting the letter on, Meredith's plea for respect for the American military and grieving family members is getting national attention. A number of families have asked for their names to be added to the original 11 signers as of Tuesday, it was just under 30.

She said she's been interviewed by national media outlets and cable news channels, and her fellow Gold Star families around the country have been speaking out to their local media. The goal is to get more people who will say that Trump's comments do not represent the United States, she said.

"My philosophy is that if you don't like what's happening, you'd better say something or people think you're OK with it," she said. "And I am not OK with disrespect of the military, and (Trump) is not fit to be commander in chief."

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74 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 3, 2016 at 5:23 am

Marc Vincenti is a registered user.

Dear Ms. Meredith,

Please accept my condolences for your loss of your son Ken. Thank you for his service, for yours, for the letter you wrote, and for the unstinting sacrifice to and devotion for our country that all of these exemplify. I'm sorry for your loss, grateful for your son's giving so much for strangers like me. You and he are the stuff of which this nation is made.


Marc Vincenti
(former schoolteacher in Palo Alto)

54 people like this
Posted by Fifty-Seven States
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2016 at 7:04 am

My condolences for her loss. What you have endured is must be painful.

However, to say Trump is "unfit to lead" makes me feel uneasy especially when compared to the legacy of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Obama-Clinton have single-handedly destabilized the Middle East, handed Iraq, Libya and Syria to ISIS, and allowed our personnel to be slaughtered at Benghazi. Then they put Iran on the path to nuclear weapons. Then they allowed dozens of veterans to die waiting for medical care that never came.

Hillary Clinton put the whole country at risk with her illegal email server, deleted evidence of her crime, and lied repeatedly about her conduct which endangered us all. They released criminal aliens into our country who killed one innocent American after another — like Sarah Root and Kate Steinle — and have repeatedly admitted migrants later implicated in terrorism. They have produced the worst recovery since the Great Depression. They have shipped millions of our best jobs overseas to appease their global special interests. They have betrayed our security and our workers, and Hillary Clinton has proven herself unfit to serve in any government office.

She is reckless with her emails, reckless with regime change, and reckless with American lives. Our nation has been humiliated abroad and compromised by radical Islam brought onto our shores.

78 people like this
Posted by Blue Star Aunt
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:00 am

First, Mrs Meredith, let me tell you how deeply sorry we are, as a family, for your terrible loss and relentless pain! There are never enough condolences, when losing a child violates a simple law of nature--that the child will not predecease his parents.

That said, I feel angry, of course, with Donald Trumo, who hasn't a clue! But also with Hillary Clinton for USING the Khan family in this way for HER own gain.

[Portion removed.] But it was CRUEL of her to put the Khans through this and expose them to the ignorant, arrogant and thoughtless remarks of Trump--while making HERSELF look good. It was nothing but a cheap stunt on Hillary's part, and I find it inexcusable that anyone who knew of her plan did not try to intervene and stop her.

The end result is that not only did Hillary's stunt cause the Khan unnecessary pain and grief, but it also exposed thousands and thousands of Gold Star parents to renewed pain and grief. Absolutely thoughtless and cruel.

Allow me to finish by telling you that I DO have some idea of what Gold Star parents go through--My nephew was an Army doctor in Iraq AND Afghanistan, and saw death and dismemberment of soldiers and civilians alike--including children and infants--several times a day for three solid years. He has only recently finished his last tour of duty, and has been irreparably scarred from it--both physically and emotionally.

28 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:02 am

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

21 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:08 am

And a response that no progressive from PA will read:
Web Link

94 people like this
Posted by Shameful attack
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:13 am

As expected, trumps acolytes, like 57 states and member will use this discussion to bash Clinton and Obama.

5 people like this
Posted by Another racist dog whistler
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 3, 2016 at 8:48 am

[Post removed.]

45 people like this
Posted by To 57 States
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 3, 2016 at 11:20 am

To 57 States is a registered user.

When, exactly, was the Middle East stable? 9-11 happened BEFORE Barack Obama was elected--under the Republican Bush administration.

To say that Obama-Clinton "single-handedly" Iraq, Syria, Libya to ISIS ignores hundreds of years of Middle East history and more recent Republican Middle East policy of their last three administrations.

I suggest that you get some of your information from sources more reliable than FOX News.

2 people like this
Posted by Not as smart as I think I am
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 3, 2016 at 11:41 am

Not as smart as I think I am is a registered user.

My post is not at all to diminish the grief of the families who have lost loved ones. On the contrary, my sincerest condolences to these families.

My first take at the headline: I didn't know what a "Gold Star mom" was. Or rather, I thought it was someone who had a kid in gymnastics. What kind of a bubble do I live in? Maybe don't answer that...

31 people like this
Posted by vmshadle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 3, 2016 at 12:36 pm

vmshadle is a registered user.

Dear Ms. Meredith: Please ignore the bad manners and political sparring that has erupted in the comments above. There's a time and a place for that, but not here and not now.

I'm sorry about everything you and your family have been through, including the ripping-open of wounds never healed as a result of this election year.

After all these silly and hurtful shenanigans are over, remember that many of us have appreciated and continue to appreciate your son's service. Know that you are not alone in your grief, and may you find comfort in your memories of your son as he was in life.

Take care.

38 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2016 at 12:38 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"Hillary Clinton put the whole country at risk with her illegal email server, deleted evidence of her crime, and lied repeatedly about her conduct which endangered us all."

Those would be the emails Donald Trump recently invited the Russian government to get and read, right?. Trump gravely endangers us all.

19 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 3, 2016 at 1:43 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

And of course, with the astonishingly idiotic and illegal invasion of Iraq, Bush/Cheney removed the lid from a Pandora box that irreversibly unleashed the most dangerous, deadly and irrational genies in the Muslim world, ISIS for example. They completely unbalanced the Arab world and made a very unstable region infinitesimally more dangerous and unpredictable.

50 people like this
Posted by Charles Wilson George
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Charles Wilson George is a registered user.

This weekly article demonstrates a clear example of media bias. While it gives someone who is clearly Anti-Trump a platform to bash away at the man, it provides little in the way of accuracy about underlying issues.

A couple of background information—apparently there are about 475,000 registrants on the so- called Gold Star Registry. With about 400,000 WWII dead, about 65,000 Vietnam and about 35,000 Korean War dead, it’s clear that the bulk of the Gold Star families are Americans who lost a loved one during WWII. As to the letter sent to Trump from some Gold Star families and veterans demanding an apology from Trump, it would appear that only 40 families and veterans signed this letter. It is very hard to understand how this small group represents the almost 500,000 families in the registry.

The underlying claim that attacking the Khans, who lost their son in Iraq, is an attack on all Gold Star families is not rational, nor defensible. Donald Trump called the Kahn’s son a hero, and simply defended himself in his own eyes after what was clearly a very personal attack on Mr. Trump by Mr. Kahn. Mr. Khan’s question about what Trump has sacrificed was clearly poorly answered by Mr. Trump. But that same question could be posed to most Americans, since only about 4% of the American population has served in the military, according to the U.S. Census.

Mr. Khan’s subsequent claims that Mr. Trump was a draft dodger certainly put Mr. Kahn into the frame of being a political operative for Hillary Clinton, rather than just a bereaved father. One can only wonder if Mr. Kahn is equally aware that Bill Clinton dodged the draft in a similar fashion? No doubt, Mr. Kahn will claim that Clinton’s avoidance of the draft is different than Trump’s not serving in the military.

There are about six million Muslims in the United States at the current time. According to the following article in the New York Times, very few (5000-6000) are currently serving in the U.S. Military, at of the 2+M men and women on active duty, or reserve status. When suggesting that Muslims are carrying their load in defending the country, these numbers need to be kept in mind.

Web Link

From watching the various speeches, and political analysis following Mr. Trump’s comments, it is clear that: 1) Trump should have said nothing and just let the matter drop, and 2) Mr. Trump did not insult the 475,000 fallen warriors from wars going back 100 years, as suggested by Karen Meredith.

People interested in knowing a little more about Mr. Khan, who has written extensively about the supremacy of Sharia Law over all other legal systems:

Web Link

It’s a shame that media cannot be more fair and balanced.

22 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 3, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Charles Wilson George - that last link includes some interesting information; thank you. Fully agree w/your concluding statement and would apply it to both the left-leaning and the right-leaning press. Time to unplug and read a good book! Our election process is painfully protracted, it is absurdly expensive, it does nothing positive for society, and at this point I think we all know what we need to know about the candidates.

26 people like this
Posted by Nayeli P.
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Nayeli P. is a registered user.

Trump's biggest problem is putting his foot in his mouth.

Hillary's biggest problem is that she is an unbelievably corrupt, dishonest and dirty politician and self-entitled narcissist.

Hillary is like Nixon in a pantsuit -- except that Nixon had quite a few worthwhile accomplishments to go along with his corruption. Hillary is just corrupt.

I'll take my chances with Trump.

21 people like this
Posted by jet pilot
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 3, 2016 at 10:05 pm

jet pilot is a registered user.

Dear Ms. Meredith-- I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for raising such a fine young man as LT Ballard. I did 6 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and was fortunate to return to my family. The deaths of your son and that of CPT Khan will leave holes in your families which will never be filled. Mr. Trump's words are reprehensible. Trump knows nothing of sacrifice, devotion, or selfless service. Thinking of Trump assuming the responsibility of Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces makes me ill.

18 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2016 at 11:20 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"People interested in knowing a little more about Mr. Khan, who has written extensively about the supremacy of Sharia Law over all other legal systems:"

Mr. Khan is exercising his rights of free speech as a U.S. citizen, per the U.S. Constitution. He has a copy of it he will be happy to lend you after Donald Trump returns it.

7 people like this
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 4, 2016 at 4:02 am

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

Mrs. Meredith

Nothing replaces the loss of your son. USA should always be proud of your son's contribution.

Regarding Khan family loss it is no different because of their religion. It is unkind for Donald Trump to belittle the mom for not speaking. It is a cheap shot.

However, we, citizens have the power to vote. We can assess who we think is the right person that can represent us well as POTUS president of United States. We all have that opportunity on November 8, 2016.

I got to be with Hillary Clinton once this year, impressed with her personal charm.

However, I feel she needs to open up, be truthful on why she fully knowing well, would allow a personal email server with a lot of classified information being exchanged.

Is it all about book writing and making money. She just needs to come clean.


19 people like this
Posted by Resident 7
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2016 at 6:51 am

Resident 7 is a registered user.

Why did I have to register to post in this thread, but none of the others? Why are comments being censored?
Trump is down big in the polls now, but I remain optimistic about his chances. He is being smeared so badly but will recover in the debates.

Enough censoring and silencing. Enough of this tyrannical "progressivism" that wants to ban plastic bags, force people out of their cars, and suffocate the economy and get everyone to fall meekly in line behind lofty ideals. We need pragmatists in office,

Trump is being judged unfairly. The movement will not die even if Hilary wins and pushes us towards a homogenized & restricted society.

8 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 4, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"That said, I feel angry, of course, with Donald Trumo, who hasn't a clue! But also with Hillary Clinton for USING the Khan family in this way for HER own gain."

Of course we are shocked, shocked, to see politics at a political event!

Look, nobody, not even Hillary Clinton, can force anybody to speak at a convention.

The Khans are sophisticated people. Like all of us they have watched Donald Trump during the past year. They are certainly familiar with his incredibly thin skin, his quick vicious temper, and his demonstrated deep contempt for our troops.

They knew what to expect and, like their son, they volunteered their services to America. They are heros who have earned the respect of decent people everywhere.

5 people like this
Posted by Caroline V.
a resident of Portola Valley
on Aug 31, 2016 at 9:56 am

Caroline V. is a registered user.

Nowadays I do not know which media report to trust; therefore, I spend hours researching various media reports.
With the liberal media reporting in the Bay area it is imperative that I copy this article, which supports the previous comments of Charles Wilson George:
back story about Mr. Khan:

Web Link

But is there even more to the story about Khizr Khan? According to Theodore Shoebat and Walid Shoebat, Mr. Khizr Muazzam Khan is a promoter of Islamic sharia law and a co-founder of the Journal of Contemporary Issues in Muslim Law (sharia). In fact, in the past, Khizr Khan has shown "his appreciation for an icon of the Muslim Brotherhood" by the name of Said Ramadan, who "wrote material for the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, an organization that has been promoting Islamic revivalism and indoctrination to recruit young people in Malaysia to jihadism." Mr. Said Ramadan was the son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood including Ahmad Bahefzallah, the boss of Huma Abedin (Hillary Clinton's aide)[.]"

Should this connection give us pause?

Shoebat writes that "Khizr Khan currently runs a law firm in New York called KM Khan Law Office, a firm that specializes in 'immigration services.'"

According to Shoebat, "[t]o understand the inception of Muslim immigration one must study the Muslim Minority Affairs, a paradigm created by Saudi jurisprudence which sparked during the times Khan lived in Saudi Arabia while collaborating with the Saudi kingdom. It is likely that Khan is a Muslim plant working with the Hillary Clinton campaign, probably for the interest of Muslim oil companies as well as Muslim immigration into the U.S."

Khizr M. Khan used to work for Hogan & Hartson and Lovells, which has ties to the Clinton Foundation. Accordingly, "Hogan Lovells LLP, another U.S. firm hired by the Saudis, is registered to work for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia through 2016, disclosures show. Robert Kyle, a lobbyist from the firm, has bundled $50,850 for Clinton’s campaign."

In fact, Shoebat relates how "[m]any lawyers at Hogan Lovells remember the week in 2004 when U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan lost his life to a suicide bomber. Then-Hogan & Hartson attorneys mourned the death because the soldier’s father, Khizr Khan, a Muslim American immigrant, was among their beloved colleagues."

Shoebat emphasizes that "Saudi interests with using Khan to advance Muslim immigration and advance Muslim Sharia is a lengthy subject [.]" "Then there are the ... ties to Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin as well. The House of Saud had used Huma’s father Sayed Zaynul Abedin’s work regarding the Muslim Minority Affairs in the West, published in 1998 as part of 29 works to construct a plan to conquer the U.S. with Islam."

Shoebat maintains that "[i]t is obvious that Khan is upset, that a Trump victory will eliminate and destroy decades of hard work to bring in Islamic immigration into the United States which was spearheaded by agents in Saudi Arabia like Khan and Huma Abedin’s father (Sayed Z. Abedin)."

Huma Abedin has never been properly vetted, and this takes on even greater urgency now that Clinton is running for the presidency. The mainstream media continues to cover up the Muslim Brotherhood's enormous clout in the Obama administration. Each day brings new revelations about the financial influence and "access" the Saudis have exerted on the Clinton team. Patrick Poole, a national security analyst, asserts that "[t]here are massive conflicts of interest. It's beyond comprehension."

Read more: Web Link
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Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Reprehensible
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2016 at 6:22 pm

Reprehensible is a registered user.

What Hillary did in setting up the Khan Family was reprehensible on her part. It is almost certain that she reviewed with them the text of Mr Khan's speech, yet she let him criticize Trump knowing that Trump would counter-attack-- which he did, shamefully!

Hillary acted irresponsibly and set up the Khans and other Gold Star Families for Trump criticism, obviously resulting in great sorrow and pain for them!

Both candidates are despicable, if in different ways! This is the worst election ever, in which neither candidate is fit to lead a large nation. We need to start over from the beginning without these two!

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