On August 5, 2012, a gunman attacked the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six sangat members and injuring several others. It was one of the worst hate crimes in recent American history. Baba Punjab Singh, a 65 year-old man, was critically injured during the attack and continues to require around-the-clock, long-term care at an inpatient rehabilitation center.
The following essay was written by Holly Sennett, a speech-language pathologist, who has been working with Baba Punjab Singh and his family since last fall. Holly shares Baba Punjab Singh's heartwarming story and discusses how the tragic events of that day affected not only her life but all of our lives.
Written by: Holly Sennett | Released With Approval by: Raghuvinder Singh (Baba Punjab Singh’s son)
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Sometimes our lives are blessed in ways that we could have never imagined. Sometimes our lives cross paths with special souls who possess golden hearts and who touch our own hearts in a manner that causes us to be transformed in both subtle and profound ways. Many of us have had the honor and privilege of meeting such individuals during our lifetime. I would like to share with you the story of a very special person.
Punjab Singh is one of the Sikh religion’s most revered teachers. He has touched the lives of countless people throughout the world. His story is uniquely his own, however, the messages and lessons he continues to teach are timeless and encompass us all.
I am a speech-language pathologist who works in a facility that provides care for individuals recovering from a variety of medical diagnoses. The name of the facility is being kept confidential at this time to maintain Punjab Singh’s privacy during his rehabilitation process.
I was asked to collaborate with Punjab Singh’s eldest son, Raghuvinder Singh, and the rest of his family to tell you Punjab Singh’s story because he is a victim of a hate crime. His injury is severe and he is not able to voice his own story at this point. We are pleased to say that there have been unexpected improvements and progress that doctors initially never imagined would happen. There are many signs that point to hope for continued miracles to come with the support of prayers from all of those people around the world who are moved in their hearts to earnestly pray on his behalf for healing.
On August 5, 2012, a community of peace-filled people had come together to praise the Creator of all of life in their Gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. This community experienced a moment of heart-shattering darkness that, while frozen in time, continues to reverberate today.
On this day in August, a stranger with a blanket of hateful, fearful thoughts covering his mind entered into the Gurdwara (“gur”=Lord, “dwara”=door). Six people were killed and three others were wounded. Punjab Singh miraculously survived being shot in the head.