Last fall’s presidential election brought a range of impassioned voices to the national stage, but one of the most captivating speakers rose above petty politics with a deeply personal and very different view of what it means to be American. You may recall the Muslim parent Khizr Khan from the DNC when he spoke about his son, a U.S. Army Captain who was killed while protecting his base camp in Iraq. In Khan’s inspiring new book, An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice, he reflects on his grief for his son as well as his family history of pursuing the American dream during these tumultuous times. From humble beginnings on a poultry farm in Pakistan to obtaining a degree from Harvard Law School and raising a family in America—Khan shows what it means to leave the limitations of one’s country behind for the best values and promises of another. Khan will now take the ALOUD stage to discuss the realities of life in a nation of immigrants and the daily struggles of living up to our ideals.
Khizr Khan was born in 1950, the eldest of ten children, to poultry farming parents in Gujranwala, a city in rural Pakistan. He moved to the United States with his wife Ghazala in 1980. The couple became American citizens in 1986, and raised their three sons in Silver Lake, Maryland. His middle son, Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 in a suicide attack near Baqubah, Iraq, and was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Khizr works as a legal consultant, and is involved with the University of Virginia’s ROTC program.
Jeffrey Fleishman is a culture and film writer for the Los Angeles Times. A long time foreign and war correspondent he has had postings in Rome, Berlin and Cairo. He covered the Iraq war, the Arab Spring uprisings and the fall of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for a series of stories, including a magazine piece about his accompanying 15 Buddhist monks and nuns as they eluded Chinese soldiers on a harrowing escape trek out of Tibet and over the Himalayas and into Nepal. He is a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and the author of two novels, Shadow Man and Promised Virgins: A Novel of Jihad.