INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Gold Star families here in Indiana are saying their sons and daughters have no place on the political spectrum.
Donald Trump sparked bipartisan backlash after the Republican attacked the bereaved parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who spoke at the Democratic convention last week.
“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures,” Trump said.
The controversy is erupting just as Gold Star families are trying to build a memorial in downtown Indianapolis to remember their loved ones. The memorial would be built by the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.
There are more war memorials in Indianapolis than anywhere else in the country outside of Washington, D.C. But none of them are dedicated to these families.
“We want the families to know they’re not alone,” said Janice Schauwecker, a Gold Star mother. “They’re not forgotten. Their hero is not forgotten, and we’re here for them. It would reach every family member of every war or every conflict.”
Schauwecker’s son, Richard Blakley, was killed in Iraq on June 6, 2006.
“He was the sixth soldier killed that day, and he was the 66th soldier with Indiana ties. So needless to say, six is not our favorite number.” Donald Schauwecker said.
Staff Sgt. Blakley was a front line medic. He was 34 when he was killed by a sniper’s bullet, after spending half of his life in the Army.
“He joined straight out of high school, 17 years old,” Janice Schauwecker said.
Now 10 years after his death they are trying to get a memorial built to help families like theirs.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, going to take a lot of money, but it’s going to be well worth it,” she said.
The family estimates there are thousands of Hoosier Gold Star families, all of whom share the same anguish as the Khan family who spoke at the DNC.
The Schauweckers didn’t want to comment on the speech, or the political backlash now swirling around Donald Trump.
“It’s not political, it’s not religious,” Janice Schauwecker said. “That should have no part in it. And we have no intentions in making it part of it.”
They say their son and all the other fallen heroes’ sacrifices are above politics.
“There’s no good way to lose a loved one, there’s a lot worse ways than we lost ours, because we’re very proud of him,” Donald Schauwecker added.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, issued the following statement late Sunday:
Donald Trump and I believe that Captain Humayun Khan is an American hero and his family, like all Gold Star families, should be cherished by every American.
Captain Khan gave his life to defend our country in the global war on terror. Due to the disastrous decisions of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a once stable Middle East has now been overrun by ISIS. This must not stand.
By suspending immigration from countries that have been compromised by terrorism, rebuilding our military, defeating ISIS at its source and projecting strength on the global stage, we will reduce the likelihood that other American families will face the enduring heartbreak of the Khan family.
Donald Trump will support our military and their families and we will defeat the enemies of our freedom.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.