THE BLOG
07/29/2016 07:50 pm ET Updated Jul 30, 2017

'You Have Sacrificed Nothing'

The Washington Post via Getty Images

Statements that resonate, speeches that linger, are not the result of a voice, a wardrobe, a hairstyle, or a handsome face. One of the greatest speeches in human history, was delivered by a man who had none of these things. He had no speech writers, no clever wordsmiths to tell him what to say and how to say it. It was literally written near the last minute on the back of an envelope. It is now carved in stone and in our hearts. It is the Gettysburg Address.

Resonance with history is most often produced by an individual with a conviction, with beliefs lodged in the heart, with a sense of honor, integrity, and principle. The person delivering words worth remembering must have something to say and a reason for saying it.

Powerful truths are often contained in a few powerful words. When Mr. Trump loses this election, it will be because of, as much as anything, these simple words: "You have sacrificed nothing."

Mr. Khizr Khan, his silent wife beside him, looked into Mr. Trump's soul and found...nothing.

Mr. Khizr Khan, his silent wife beside him, looked into Mr. Trump's soul and found...nothing.

Mr. Khan could deliver that message, so far reaching in its implications, such a devastating profile in character, because he spoke with moral conviction and authority. He and his wife had sacrificed something ultimately precious, their son, and they had sacrificed their son because they loved America, an America with liberty and justice for all.

Mr. and Mrs. Khan and their son Captain Humayun Khan are and were Muslims.

Mr. Khan said he doubted that Mr. Trump had ever read the Constitution of the United States of America and offered to share his copy with Mr. Trump. The picture of Mr. Khan holding up the Constitution should be shown to every voter and in every household in America every day of this election.

It is the purest symbol of what this election is about.

Mr. Trump should apologize to Mr. Khan for what he has said about Muslims. But he will not. He does not have the courage to do so. He has sacrificed nothing.

Mr. Trump should apologize to Mr. Khan for what he has said about Muslims. But he will not. He does not have the courage to do so.

Moral authority is achieved through sacrifice. It cannot be acquired by immense wealth. It cannot be bargained for in the marketplace. For moral authority, we must look to Tolstoy, to Gandhi, to Martin Luther King. Each of us must look into our own souls for the courage required to achieve that authority. True leadership is never mean, bitter, angry, or divisive.

If Mr. Trump wishes to achieve that authority, he might start by begging the forgiveness of Mr. and Mrs. Khan. He will not do so. Searching his soul for courage, you will find nothing.

In the end, history remembers the Abraham Lincolns, not the Joseph McCarthys. It takes no courage and no sacrifice to demean and belittle others.

Many years from now, the fading figure of Donald Trump will be remembered with these words: You sacrificed nothing. After the election he will have plenty of time to do what Mr. Khan admonished him to do: Visit the Arlington National Cemetery and learn the meaning of sacrifice.