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One year anniversary of Oak Creek tragedy observed by Washington Sikhs

August 13, 2013 | By

Rockville (August 12, 2013): According to a press statement by Dr. Rajwant Singh, Secretary of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, hundreds of Sikhs in the Washington area gathered at Guru Gobind Singh Foundation to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Oak Creek shooting at the Gurdwara which took six lives. Many elected officials, religious leaders and civic representatives joined in the prayerful ceremony. While reflecting on the tragedy, Sikhs displayed the Sikh spirit of ‘Chardhi Kala’ – staying positive in the face of adversity.

County Executive Ike Leggett, Head of the Montgomery County, one of the largest local governments outside the Washington, reflected and offered his words of support and commitment to the Sikhs.

He said, “Our hearts reach out to all who grieve the loss of innocent lives taken in a gurdwara due to the ignorance and hatred of others. We acknowledge with deep appreciation the peaceful response of the Sikh community at that time and ever since. It is an example of living out deep spiritual principals of compassion and harmony that heal draw us together as one people.”

Inderpal Singh, Chairman of GGSF, thanking the guests and the community for participating in the program

He further added, “We stand in solidarity with you noting with great respect your longstanding reputation of tolerance, humility, advocacy of basic human rights and commitment to respecting other faiths while at the same time working with them in advancing the common good.

We appreciate the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation bringing us together for a time of healing and recommitment to actively caring for one another, strengthening the vulnerable and living in harmony with all.”

Rev. Lynn Strauss, from Montgomery County Faith Community Advisory Board and its clergy Response Team, Ms. Loretta Garcia from Montgomery County’s Office of Human Rights and Mr. Adam Marker, Montgomery County’s Committee on Hate/Violence spoke at the occasion. Commander James Fenner from Montgomery County Police Department, and representatives from the offices of Congressman John Delaney and Delegate Sam Arora also brought messages to the Sikhs.

The event also drew: Maryland Delegate Aruna Miller (Democrat – District 15); interfaith leaders of the Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Baha’i faiths – Dr. Carol Flett of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Chair of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, Dr. Siva Subramanian of the Shiva Vishnu Temple in Maryland and Rizwan Jaka of All Dulles Area Muslim Mosque, among others; law enforcement officers; school children; and a large contingent of non-Sikh participants.

Romi Kaur Sawhney, Executive Director of GGSF, said, “It was very heartwarming to see so much of the community support, and everyone coming together as ONE. May God Bless everyone love and peace!”

Inderpal Singh Gadh, Chairman of GGSF, said, “Such a large number of community activists, faith leaders, Government officials and public at large would join us in our prayers for the well being of the victims and their families was not only pleasing but also overwhelming and reassuring. In our effort to express our love, sympathy and solidarity with the affected families in a peaceful way, we not only met our objective, it was an effort well worth it and very successful.”

Ravi Singh, A board member of GGSF and member of the planning team, said, “Although it was a somber occasion yet it was very exhilarating to see such a huge support by so many different faiths and, various religious and political leader. It was a reminder that united we stand as one mankind supporting each other in good and bad times.

The whole service was quite moving. From Bhai Gurdarshan Singh who started the service with religious hymns to the kids of GGSF who shared their views and how they felt, to the religious and political leaders who gave their respects and showed support of solidarity to the Sikh community, everyone had the same underlying message, we cannot and will not give into the ignorant and misinformed, and for sure not to hatred. We shall overcome this with love and compassion, and will continue to show to the world who Sikh’s are and the values and beliefs of Sikhism.”

Sartaj Singh Dhami, Member of the planning committee, who also serves on the Hate and Violence Committee of the Montgomery County, said, “We must never forget that the American public stood with us in our time of need. Also we must never forget that this tragedy was an attack on the Sikh way of life that was planned and meditated, and not a random shooting.

Dr. Rajwant Singh, Secretary of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, said, “We are feeling a sense of family with rest of Americans because of all the love and support that we have received as a community. Since last year, we have seen the finest character of this great nation. Communities from all walks came together to mourn the loss of precious lives and show solidarity with the victims. We thank the entire nation including President Obama and his administration for their care and assurance to the Sikhs.”

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