August 5, 2013 (New York, NY) - One year ago today, a gunman attacked a Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six worshippers and injuring several others.
As we honor those who lost their lives that day—Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suvegh Singh Khattra, and Satwant Singh Kaleka—and pray for the full recovery of those who were critically injured—Baba Punjab Singh, Bhai Santokh Singh, and Lt. Brian Murphy—we are proud that Sikh Americans nationwide have responded to this tragedy with open hearts and heads held high, consistent with the Sikh belief in Chardi Kala (eternal optimism).
Community Service and Remembrance
Inspired by the example of the Oak Creek community, which organized a Memorial Run/Walk to honor those who lost their lives at the Oak Creek Gurdwara last year, Sikh communities nationwide and California’s SEVA organization partnered with the Sikh Coalition on a National Day of Seva (Selfless Service) to pay tribute to the Oak Creek community.
Detroit Sikhs partnered with Kids Against Hunger to package 20,000 meals for needy families; Houston Sikhs volunteered at a local library and partnered with Urban Harvest to clean a garden at a local elementary school; New York City Sikhs cleaned Morningside Park; and Sikhs in California’s Central Valley and Bay Area packaged and served food to the homeless.
Click here for pictures from the Chardi Kala 6K Memorial Walk/Run.
Click here for pictures from Detroit's Day of Seva.
Click here for pictures from New York City's Day of Seva.
Click here for pictures from Houston's Day of Seva.
Click here for pictures from California's Day of Seva.
Keeping Our Heads High
As we remember the Oak Creek tragedy, the Sikh Coalition looks forward to building on the progress that we have made in advancing the interests of Sikh Americans.
This past week, more than two years after the Sikh Coalition first called for Sikh hate crime tracking, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that our request was formally approved by the FBI. These revisions will be tied to increased nationwide training of law enforcement officials on Sikhs and awareness about our community.
This month, the Sikh Coalition will continue calling on our supporters to sign our petition to President Obama and our letter to Congress demanding equal opportunity for all Sikhs who wish to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. Aspiring Sikh American soldiers who maintain their articles of faith deserve the right to serve their country without applying for temporary waivers.
"The Sikh tradition of “Chardi Kala” or eternal optimism counsels us to keep our heads up even in the face of tragedy,” said Sapreet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition. “So even if the Sikh turban and beard may be viewed with hate by some, we press on with optimism until it is viewed with the compassion and love that it truly represents."
The Sikh Coalition is grateful to its community partners for inspiring us. As always, we encourage Sikhs everywhere to fearlessly maintain their articles of faith.