- Rep. Adam Kinzinger served in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Retired Gen. John Kelly's son was killed in Afghanistan
Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, watched the speech that replayed on air where Kelly, whose son was killed in Afghanistan, addressed Gold Star families in San Francisco in 2014.
"When future generations ask why America is still free in the heyday of these terrorists and their allies ... they can say that because of me and people like me who risked all to protect millions, millions who will never know my name, that's why we still have an America," Kelly said in his speech. "For those of you tonight, all the families that were lost, the light of their lives, they can say to every American that it was my boy or it was my girl who stood their post and did their duty into eternity."
Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, began tearing up as Kelly spoke about how being a Gold Star father would bring a different perspective to the position.
"That was the first time I ever heard that and it choked me up to be honest with you," Kinzinger told Blitzer. "It's one thing to be in the military command. It's one thing to talk about defending the homeland. It's a totally other thing to have felt that sacrifice personally."
He continued, "You see that weight of a president as he has to order troops into combat. But you especially see that in the weight of somebody that lost somebody serving. And it puts a different perspective on what sacrifice is ... I think that's a good perspective to come."