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Our Heroes

The Chic Sikh of the Year 2012:
Lt Brian Murphy of the Oak Creek Police Force





Nominations received from our readers from around the world have helped a panel of four judges to select Lieutenant BRIAN MURPHY of the Oak Creek Police Force in Wisconsin, USA as the CHIC SIKH OF THE YEAR 2012.

To serve ... and ... protect.

These are two of the central pillars of the Sikh way of life. As well, they constitute the mandate of those who take on the extraordinary role of a police officer in their respective communities.

True, Lt Brian Murphy is employed as a police officer and it is indeed as part of his duties and profession as a police officer that he arrived at the Oak Creek Gurdwara on the fateful morning of Sunday, August 5, 2012, in answer to a distress call received from the place of worship.   

But what he did when he arrived there, though, exemplified not only the highest ideals of his profession but showed that it is much, much more: in fact, a vocation that requires, at a moment’s notice, the ultimate dedication, commitment and fearlessness in the face of unknown and grave danger.

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, a former US Marine (1980-85), and a 21-year veteran with the Oak Creek Police Force, Murphy was the first responder to arrive at the scene, to find a white-supremacist gunman who had opened fire inside the Oak Creek Gurdwara (Sikh church), where a group of Sikh-American men, women and children were preparing for the regular Sunday morning worship service.

Six of them were murdered in cold blood.     

Lt Murphy confronted the killer who then riddled him with 15 bullets before killing himself. Mercifully, Lt Murphy survived and is now, slowly but steadily -- almost five months later -- recovering from the injuries he received during the ordeal. The selflessness he displayed in his timely intervention undoubtedly saved many lives.

*   *   *   *   *

This annual honour, announced every New Year’s Day by, is the result of a two-month long poll from its readers worldwide and a final whetting by the four-judge panel.

This year’s panel was comprised of Dr Birinder Singh Ahluwalia, a Toronto-based philanthropist; Ms Gurmeet Kaur, a children’s author and activist based in Atlanta, Georgia; Manjit Singh, former Director of Chaplaincy Services at McGill University, Montreal; and Dr Parvinder Kaur Mehta, a scholar of English Literature based in Michigan.

“Lt Murphy’s actions have reminded Sikhs every where of our own duty to serve and protect the communities we live in, and the need for us to re-affirm our own commitment as individuals to those ideals,” said Dr Ahluwalia.    

The criteria for the honour of being selected ‘Chic Sikh of the Year’ stipulate that a candidate’s actions should constitute public service above and beyond the call of duty; selfless, consistent, ongoing and meticulous service; have a ground-breaking and far-reaching impact; commensurate with the highest Sikh ideals of working towards the welfare of all people; of benefit to people of all faiths and races; have made a mark on society in the Year 2012; of a nation-building nature; and deserving wide recognition, encouragement and support.

Lt Murphy will receive the award in the form of an aluminum sculpture of an eagle head crafted at the famous Hosleton Studios in Ontario, Canada.

An award ceremony will be held in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in a few weeks at Lt Murphy’s convenience.

*   *   *   *   *

This is the fifth year in a row that we have asked our world-wide readers to propose the names of those men, women, children, groups, institutions or corporations - Sikh or non-Sikh - who they feel deserve to be named THE CHIC SIKH OF THE YEAR.

As always, the response from across the diaspora over the course of the last two months has been thoughtful, spirited and enthusiastic. Our judges have struggled during the last few days with the excellent list (see below) of possible awardees, and have now selected one who has reminded us of our duty, as citizens no matter where we live, to devote our lives in serving and protecting those who are in need … thus exemplifying the highest of Sikh ideals and values.

We at join Sikhs from around the world in saluting Lt Brian Murphy and praying for his early and full recovery, and wishing him and his family strength, comfort and God’s blessings.

*   *   *   *   *  

The list of past winners includes British centenarian marathoner Fauja Singh, Harvinder Singh Phoolka (Human Rights Advocate), Jarnail Singh ('The Lion of Delhi'), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, SALDEF, Saran Singh (Editor, The Sikh Review), The Sikh Coalition and United Sikhs.

The following 32 were nominated by our readers this year for the honour:

Arpana Caur
Families of martyrs of 1984
Balpreet Kaur
Manika Kaur
Lt Brian Murphy
J K Rowling
Atam Singh Sandhu
Baldev Singh
Balwant Singh Rajoana
Bhagat Singh (Shaheed)
Fauja Singh
Gurmukh Singh (UK)
Harinder Singh (SikhRI)
Harmander Singh (UK)
Lt Col Harjit Singh Sajjan
Lord Indarjit Singh
Inderjeet Singh Jaijee
Jagtar Singh Hawara
Jatinderpal Singh
Joe Mahinder Singh
Khushwant Singh (Chandigarh)
Mohinder Singh (Nishkam)
Ravinder Singh (Khalsa Aid)
Rupinderpal ‘Roop’ Singh Dhillon
Satwant Singh (Oak Creek victim)
Sukhmeet Singh Sachal
Survivors of 1984 pogroms
United Sikhs
Widows of 1984 pogroms
Sunita Williams
Wisconsin Six (victims of Oak Creek Shootings)
Malala Yousafzai

Once again, we congratulate Lt Brian Murphy, and wish him and his loved ones every blessing and happiness in the New Year and in the years to come..

To read Lt Murphy's own account of his ordeal, please CLICK here.

January 1, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Jagjit Singh (Liverpool, England), December 31, 2012, 5:00 PM.

A perfect choice! We salute him for his sacrifice! God bless him!

2: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), December 31, 2012, 6:35 PM.

Lt. Brian Murphy most eminently deserves the highest recognition by as the 'Chic Sikh of the Year 2012' for putting duty before self.

3: N Singh (Canada), December 31, 2012, 7:14 PM.

Congratulations, Lt. Brian Murphy, and a big THANK YOU for what you did! Well deserved.

4: Harinder Singh 1469 (New Delhi, India), January 01, 2013, 1:26 AM.

Amazing thought process. Simply the best Sikh way of upholding our values. Care for others; respect faith. Unique example set by and its team embers ... we are so proud to have you in our life.

5: Ari Singh (Rostov-on-Don, Russia), January 01, 2013, 4:11 AM.

Excellent choice as Lt Brian Murphy blends with the Sikh tradition of sacrifice to serve one's fellow man. Just as Sikhs have sacrificed for non-Sikhs, he did the same as a non-Sikh.

6: Jagpal Singh Tiwana (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada), January 01, 2013, 4:47 AM.

What a wonderful news. I'm so happy; I voted for him. What a fine human being and police officer Lt. Murphy is. He apologized to the victims families that he could not save their dear ones. Judges deserve congratulations for the right decision.

7: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), January 01, 2013, 10:15 AM.

Lt. Murphy not only deserves this accolade, he has shown us that Sikh values are universal, true human values: to serve and protect. The 'punishment' he took (15 bullets!) is straight from the Sikh warrior legacy ... God bless you, Lt. Murphy.

8: H. Kaur (Canada), January 01, 2013, 10:19 AM.

Lt Murphy should be a hero in the heart of every Sikh. I believe we should put up statues of him in some places, at least one in every country where there are Sikhs and more than one in India so Sikhs there can see what a policeman should be like since what they mostly see are far from ideal and they have been exposed to thousands of raping, torturing, murdering brutes. Those cops who helped kill Sikhs during the 1984 mass rape, murder, and maiming of Sikhs were as evil as Page. Maybe a statue of Lt. Murphy should be put in front of every police station in India. Maybe it will help the brutes come to terms with what they are and what they should be.

9: Arvinder Singh  (Plainview, New York, USA), January 01, 2013, 1:57 PM.

Salute to a true hero ... like a Sikh, he defended the innocent: a Sikh's solemn duty. Let us all aspire to be such Sikhs.

10: Ari Singh (Rostov, Russia), January 01, 2013, 2:18 PM.

It is time for Sikhs to now focus on unity, without which we will be vulnerable a la 1947, 1984, etc.

11: Sarjit Kaur (Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.), January 01, 2013, 3:49 PM.

We need to also remember Bhai Satwant Singh, president of the Oak Creek Gurdwara, who sacrificed his life; he protected the sangat by confronting the gunman, although himself unarmed. And he had helped build the gurdwara.

12: Harpreet Singh (Delhi, India), January 03, 2013, 1:35 PM.

Great sacrifice by Lt. Brian Murphy. Thanks. Reminds me of Assistant Sub Inspector Jugti Ram of Delhi Police Trans-Yamuna (KALYAN Puri P.S.) who, as per news reports, defied his seniors and played a great role in saving Sikh men/women in Nov. 1984. He was removed from his job as punishment. He is perhaps deceased now, I am not sure. We and our "leaders" have no time/intention to remember such great heroes or to honour their family members/dependents or to know how they are surviving in this cruel world.

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Lt Brian Murphy of the Oak Creek Police Force"

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