America Honours the Victims: T. SHER SINGH
U.S. Flag to Fly Half-Staff
Until Friday, August 10
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Yesertaday, American President Barack Obama ordered that, as “a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on August 5, 2012, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin,” the U.S. flag is to fly half-mast across the length and breadth of the United States of America, for the five days leading up to Friday, August 10, 2012, until sunset that day.
The Presidential Proclamation serves as a directive to “all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions.”
It also applies to “all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including military facilities and naval vessels and stations.”
It’ll thus bring together not only the whole country but people around the world to use these days as ones for prayer and reflection, remembrance and introspection.
We in the Sikh community - everywhere! In the US, Canada, Britain, India, South East Asia, Australia & NZ, East Africa, everywhere - should, as far as possible, put aside these days from our usual routine and join the world in standing together, hands held in solidarity.
A few thoughts on how these days could be observed:
1 Those of us who can should take some time off from our daily routines and spend time in quiet prayer either at the gurdwara or at home with friends and family. In the US and, where possible, in every nook and corner of the world. We need to be together on times like this.
2 There should be no press-releases or proclamations over time spent in prayer and contemplation. Just silence, quiet time, paatth and prayer, kirtan, simran, ardaas. This is not a PR opportunity, not a photo-op.
3 We need to remember, pray for and honour Lt. Brian Murphy and his colleagues at the Oak Creek Police Force as well on these days. They have selflessly put their lives on the line in response to the tragedy.
4 This is not a political act or event. Regardless of whether one is Democrat or Republican, supportive of President Obama or in opposition, the focus should remain on the fact that these are days to mark our respect for the victims of the tragedy.
5 Three siblings - Akaljot Singh, Gurbani Kaur and Sukhmani Kaur - have asked that I share with you the following request from them: that every gurdwara across the globe, during its next Sunday service, have their raagi jathaa or kirtaniyaas to sing the shabad "jis da sahib daadda hoye ..." ("The Lord is thy Protector ...") in honour of the Oak Creek sangat. A brilliant idea!
Conversation about this article
1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), August 07, 2012, 12:43 PM.
What a wonderful and unprecedented gesture, by flying the American Flag at half mast. President Obama must be saluted for this historic and humane action. The steps suggested by Sher Singh ji are most meaningful for Sikhs to stand tall.
2: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), August 07, 2012, 2:00 PM.
Will President Obama be visiting the gurdwara in Wisconsin the same way he visited the movie theater in Colorado?
3: R.S.Minhas (Millburn, New Jersey, U.S.A.), August 07, 2012, 2:20 PM.
The reason the Indian state does not follow similar civilized practices is because then the Indian flag would have to be permanently half-mast. In India, they'd have to lower the flag all the way to the ground in shame ... There is no account of those killed by security forces, or by the mafia-politician networks.
4: Harman Singh (California, USA), August 07, 2012, 2:23 PM.
Sher Singh ji: I think the proclamation is to fly the flag at half-staff all week through August 10, not just on August 10. "A Presidential proclamation has been issued to fly the flag at half staff until sunset on August 10, 2012 in honor of the victims of the Oak Creek, WI shootings."
5: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), August 07, 2012, 3:05 PM.
Harman ji: If that is true, I stand corrected, and apologize. In such a case, I'm all the more grateful to President Obama for his unprecedented decency.
6: Paul F. Davis (Orlando, Florida, USA), August 07, 2012, 4:03 PM.
My sympathy and heartfelt apology for the United States and our dumb Americans demonizing and dehumanizing your wonderful Sikh people. My heart and prayers are with you. I'm a worldwide minister who has lived in and traveled throughout India, and an author of 'United States of Arrogance.'
7: Dr Sng Kim Hock (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), August 07, 2012, 4:42 PM.
I am deeply shocked and saddened by the senseless attack on the Gurdwara in Wisconsin and offer my heartfelt condolence to the Sikh community. The Sikh people are among the most kind, caring and helpful people on the planet earth. How can any Americans be so ill informed to attack the Sikh community thus?
8: Dya Singh (Melbourne, Australia), August 07, 2012, 7:58 PM.
President Obama is to be highly commended for this noble action. Sher Singh ji, your article will be distributed as far and wide amongst the Sikhs worldwide. Thank you for the suggestions. A prominent mainstream youth movement, "Youth in Action" in Australia, is going to all gurdwaras, low profile, just to do seva for the Sikhs as their show of regard and respect for the Sikh people. The Sikh community's Sikh decision to decorate and commend the brave police officers who put their lives on the line, even though they were "simply doing their job", is very thoughtful. Again, your thoughts shall be echoed around the globe. May peace, racial and religious harmony prevail. Rabb Raakha.
9: Heeran Kaur (Malaysia), August 08, 2012, 1:32 AM.
That was an amazing gesture for the Sikh community everywhere. My thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured and lost their lives, including the non-Sikh officers on duty that day. My faith and pride in my community has been strengthened even more because of the way Sikhs everywhere have reacted to this tragedy. There have been no retaliatory attacks or chest thumping of any kind. If anything, every peace-loving Sikh and non-Sikh alike has been profound in their grace. It rekindles hope in the greater good mankind is capable of. Truly, Sikhs everywhere today can say that we have led by example even when we were at the receiving end ... Sikhism preaches peace and forgiveness. It comes down to each and everyone of us to embody our faith through our deeds.
10: Devinder Pal Singh (Delhi, India), August 08, 2012, 1:49 AM.
President Obama's gesture and the larger community's response to the tragedy, go a long way to apply balm to the wounds. As a reciprocal gesture, we must accept and acknowledge these gestures in a true and warm manner and in accordance with the tenets of Sikhism. This could be a new dawn in communal relations for the Sikhs in America.
11: Gurmukh Singh (London United Kingdom), August 08, 2012, 2:35 AM.
A most humane, healing and uniting expression of national solidarity by the President. This should certainly undo the damage done by senseless official terrorist profiling of Sikhs and gives us yet another opportunity to educate the communities around us about Sikh identity and the universal human values enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib. I have an opportunity to mention Sher Singh ji's excellent suggestions during a Sikh TV discussion this evening.