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The Sikh Coalition News
August 15, 2014
  • [Photos] Remembering Oak Creek through Seva

    August 15, 2014 (New York, NY) - Two years ago, on August 5, 2012, a gunman with Neo-Nazi ties entered the Oak Creek Gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) in Wisconsin and killed six innocent worshipers, injured several others, and shook our nation. It was one of the most lethal attacks on an American house of worship since the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL.

    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 Oak Creek community, which organized a Memorial Run/Walk in honor and remembrance of those who lost their lives and were injured at the Oak Creek Gurdwara two years ago, Sikh communities nationwide partnered with the Sikh Coalition for a National Day of Seva (Selfless Service) to pay tribute to the Oak Creek community.

    In Atlanta, Georgia, sevadaars, partnering with Lift Up Atlanta, packed school supplies for children and toiletries for survivors of domestic violence.
    In Bakersfield, California, sevadaars, partnering with the Sikh Riders of America, prepared and served langar at Bakersfield Homeless Center.
    In Detroit, Michigan, 175 sevadaars, partnering with Kids Against Hunger, packed over 20,000 meals.
    In Durham, North Carolina,  sevadaars, partnering with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, hosted a food drive.
    In Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Sikh Community of Fort Wayne planned a series of small events, including a rose planting over a six-day period.
    In Houston, Texas, sevadaars packed meals for the homeless.
    In Modesto, California, sevadaars hosted 3 projects - preparing and serving langar in partnership with SEVA: Selfless Service, a park clean up and a Habitat for Humanity Project.
    In New York City, 70 sevadaars cleaned Morningside Park.
    In Orange County, California,  sevadaars, partnering with the Orange County Food Bank, hosted a food drive.
    In Sacramento, California,  sevadaars, partnering with Sacramento South Asian Bar Association and Land Park Volunteer Corps, cleaned up William Land Park.
    In Santa Clara, California,  sevadaars, partnering with Kids Against Hunger and the Silicon Valley Gurdwara, packed 10,000 meals.
    In San Francisco, California sevadaars, partnering with SEVA: Selfless Service, prepared and served langar to the homeless.
    In Surrey, British Columbia, sevadaars, partnering with SEVA: Selfless Service, prepared and served langar to the homeless.
    In Wilmington, Delaware, sevadaars, partnering with Delaware Gurdwara, prepared and served langar to the homeless.

    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 civil rights of Sikh Americans. Members of the U.S. Congress have introduced a resolution in remembrance of the Oak Creek tragedy. This resolution reminds us all to remain vigilant against bigotry and violence.

    "The Sikh spirit 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 they truly represent. Even still, two years after the mass shooting in Oak Creek, WI, we continue to look to the Oak Creek community for inspiration."

    While there have been some important policy developments since Oak Creek, the need for awareness, tolerance, and community still exists. With National Day of Seva, the Sikh Coalition hopes to bridge gaps and create friendships among all Americans in local communities across the nation. The Sikh Coalition is grateful to its community partners for continuing to inspire us.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition encourages all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly.

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