August 5, 2017 | By Sapreet Kaur
by: Sapreet Kaur
Five years ago today, a neo-Nazi gunman took the lives of six Sikh Americans and permanently injured several more at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
We solemnly remember Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suveg Singh Khattra, and Satwant Singh Kaleka. We continue to be inspired by the perseverance of those who were critically injured: Baba Punjab Singh, Bhai Santokh Singh, and Lt. Brian Murphy. And we admire the strength of the entire Oak Creek sangat, which set a powerful example of resilience for the entire nation.
As we honor them, I have two requests for the Sikh American community:
First, our gurdwaras must proactively make security a top priority. This year, the Sikh Coalition has shared written security resources with over 200 gurdwaras and facilitated over 30 security consultations nationwide. Sikhs have a long history of defending their gurdwaras, and with anti-immigrant rhetoric and hate groups on the rise, we must protect our gurdwaras from future attacks.
Second, we must educate our fellow Americans about the Sikh community, faith, and traditions. From classrooms to community service, and from courtrooms to the halls of Congress, we must continue to spread Sikhi’s message of universal equality and dignity for all people. If our community makes this a priority, one of the enduring legacies of Oak Creek can be making Guru Nanak a household name throughout the United States.
As always, we encourage Sikhs everywhere to practice their faith fearlessly.
* Sapreet Kaur is Executive Director of The Sikh Coalition.